Indian woman sentenced to 20 years for healthcare fraud in US

Meera Sachdeva was charged for defrauding federal insurance programme Medicare by submitting false claims for chemotherapy services

New York: An Indian-origin woman has been sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay a penalty of over $14 million on charges of healthcare fraud in the US, reports PTI.


Meera Sachdeva, 50 of Mississippi, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on charges that she defrauded federal insurance programme Medicare by submitting false claims for chemotherapy services, US Attorney Gregory Davis said in a statement.


Sachdeva, who owned and operated a cancer centre, had pleaded guilty in July this year to submitting claims for chemotherapy services that were supposedly rendered when she was out of the country.


She was also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and restitution of over $8.1 million. The forfeiture of about $6 million and property was also ordered.


She had admitted billing for more chemotherapy drugs than she actually purchased from drug suppliers from 2007 to 2011.


Her patients believed that they were receiving an amount of chemotherapy medicine that was equal to the amount being billed to their respective health care benefit programmes, but she was not providing each patient with the fully prescribed dosage of many of the billed chemotherapy drugs.


"The health care fraud perpetrated by the defendant was an abuse of public trust motivated by greed," Davis said.


Special Agent in Charge of the US Department of Health and Human Services Derrick Jackson said Sachdeva violated her duty to provide appropriate care for the patients at the cancer centre.


"Our office takes quality of care concerns very seriously, and we will vigorously investigate any provider that shortchanges patients and steals from the Medicare Trust Fund".


Raising investment limit for insurers would be imprudent: IRDA

IRDA Chairman J Hari Narayan said the government's proposed investment limits for insurance companies are about the same that venture capitalists are exposed to

New Delhi: Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has said raising investment limit for insurance companies to 30% would be "imprudent" and insurers should be conservative in their approach, not as aggressive as venture capitalists, reports PTI.
"Generally investment, which are proposed, are much higher than what the Insurance Act contemplates and the level of exposure which the draft they (government) had suggested was very high. It is about the level venture capital companies were investing as per SEBI norms," IRDA Chairman J Hari Narayan said on the sidelines of an event organised by FICCI.
"So, the question is whether insurance investment must be as aggressive as venture capitalist. I think not. I think insurance companies must be more conservative in their approach," he said.
On the government's proposal to raise investment limit for Life Insurance Corp of India (LIC) to 30% of the paid-up capital in a company, he said, "Government had proposed a certain pattern of investment with certain prudential limit for LIC and called our comments which we have given them."
The Insurance Act stipulates that an insurance company can invest 10% of the fund or 10% of the company's stake, whichever is lower.
"I have not seen any (final) notification of the government on that though the government had sent draft notification and we have offered our comments on it. So, I suppose it is under examination," he said.
Asked if the regulator would permit private sector insurers to invest beyond 10% ceiling if the government notifies increase in investment exposure for LIC to 30%, Hari Narayan said, "No, certainly not. I think it's very very imprudent."
"... it is important that insurance investments are governed by prudence ... About government and its role vis-a-vis the investment regulations governance in LIC they are defined in Insurance Act and Life Insurance Act. The government has right to define the insurance parameters ....
"Even if that being so, I would urge that prudence should be hallmark of insurance," he added.
Explaining rationale behind not increasing investment ceiling, he said, "Number one is once you get to 30%, takeover code kicks in. If you buy 30% then the company will be compelled to purchase another 20%.
"So, in no time, it will be owing 50% of the company. In which case insurance companies are supposed to own some companies. Then it will be running some steel companies." 
It may be correct in case of venture capital firm, he said, adding, "they are aggressive investors and they are willing to play risk reward game in that manner." 
"Would it be wise thing to do for the insurance companies? The way I think is insurance and pension have to be necessarily very conservative," he said.
Hari Narayan said the government should look at bringing out a National Health Insurance Scheme by combining existing health insurance schemes to improve the level of insurance coverage. "The government should look at combining the benefits of schemes like the Aarogyasri scheme and the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna," he said.


Trial results proves skeptics of Chelation Therapy wrong

Recent research data which was partially announced has proven critics wrong. BV Gokhale writes about the history of chelation therapy, the results of the TACT trials and the politics of it all

Chelation therapy, an alternative to angioplasty and bypass surgery, had constantly been given a bad rep by mainstream doctors due to its low cost which hardly earns any revenues (vis-à-vis angioplasty and bypass). Moreover, skeptics had branded it as ‘unsafe’ and ‘dangerous’. However, empirical results assessing the safety of Chelation Therapy that were partially declared recently has shown the opposite—Chelation can be successful.  


To learn more about Chelation Therapy, click here to view the video of BV Gokhale’s seminar at Moneylife Foundation on Moneylife TV.


Pioneering efforts by cardiologist Dr Norman Clarke gave a very sound proof of the efficacy of EDTA Chelation Therapy in reversal of coronary artery disease. Later, till 1964, many others researchers consolidated this hypothesis. Soon heart bypass surgery was born. Without any proving trial, people were led to (mis)believe, through media propaganda, that it gives second birth to the patient and extends his life span. Many who thought that the end of their life was near quickly underwent this dangerous surgery.


Cardiac surgeons started using this tool in hugely increasing income through media propaganda. Chelation Therapy, an inexpensive and simple procedure, was proving as an obstacle. Naturally, attempts to brand it dangerous and ineffective started and consolidated when cardiologists got another money spinning tool in angioplasty. In 1978, United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) made felon attempt to ban EDTA Chelation Therapy. However, Dr Ray Evers fought the battle and kept it alive.


Even today, after successful treatment of several million patients all over the world, tirade against Chelation Therapy continues.


In the decades of 1980 and 1990 many more patients started turning towards Chelation Therapy. Doctors providing Chelation Therapy were always looked upon as criminals by the US FDA and were either harassed or arrested. To overcome all these troubles, groups of patients and American College of Alternative Medicine (ACAM), made agitations. After listing to the woes of these agitators, Senator Dan Burton held a hearing in 1999 and recommended that an appropriate trial be conducted by National Institute of Health (NIH), to assess the safety and efficacy of Chelation Therapy.


Despite the research being expensive, Senator Burton insisted upon and got a grant of $30 million.


The trial, named Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), was started by NIH in the year 2003. Being related to coronary artery disease, the controllers of the trial were chosen from AHA, a known anti-Chelation organization. Protocol was finalized in consultation with ACAM.


For enrollment of patients, actual administration of the Chelation drips and to collect patient information from time to time, help of about 100 doctors operating chelation clinics at 134 locations was taken.


In order to stay away from mainstream medicine, the trial progressed at a snail’s pace but without much trouble otherwise, probably because the anti-Chelation lobby was confident that the results will actually show Chelation Therapy to be at least ineffective if not dangerous. However, by 2008, information was leaked and the anti-Chelation lobby realised that actually the trial was proving Chelation to be safe and effective. So the lobby, spearheaded by Dr Atwood, made vehement media attacks on the trial and made every attempt to get the trial abandoned. To resolve the issue the trial was suspended for sometime but, fortunately, Dr Gervasio Lamas, the principal investigator tackled the matter aptly and the trial was completed.


Eventually the results of TACT were partially declared in the annual meeting of AHA on 4 November 2012. Information of TACT and conclusions are as under:


TACT start date—September 2003

Fund allocation—$ 31.6 million

No. of patients—1,708

Average age—65 Years

CHD status—All the patients had previous heart attacks and 83% of them had undergone bypass surgery or angioplasty.


Of theses 839 were randomised to take 30 disodium EDTA Chelation infusions in 30 weeks and then 10 more EDTA Chelation infusions once in two to eight weeks. Remaining 869 patients were randomised to take placebo infusions in equal numbers. All patients were followed up for average duration of 55 months.


The conclusion drawn from the data collected in these trials are as under:

  1. Before starting the main study, a pilot study was conducted to reassess safety. It was noticed that after 14 infusions given to each of the 30 patients, the blood parameter, viz. creatinine, hematocrit, magnesium, platelet count and potassium remained almost unaltered. This means the likelihood of any adverse event in main trial is very low.
  1. Of the 839 patients taking Chelation infusions only one apparently died due to therapy. This means that Chelation Therapy is far safer than angioplasty or bypass surgery.
  1. The incidence of various end points in Chelation Vs placebo was as under:


End Point

Chelation Patients

Placebo Patients

Death for Any Reason



Heart Atttack






Need for Angioplasty or Bypass Surgery



Hospitalization Due to Angina



All Above Incidences Summed Up



No. of Adverse Events in Diabetic Patients




This definitely indicates that Chelation Therapy is better than placebo on EVERY aspect.

  1. Diabetic patients were greatly benefited by Chelation Therapy as they had 39% less hazard ratio of events compared to non-diabetic.

From the points 3 and 4 above it can be concluded that chelation therapy results in healthy life extension of coronary artery disease patients.


Finally, in my honest opinion due to any reasons only a tip of iceberg of benefits of Chelation Therapy was shown by the study. In actual practice, if a capable chelation physician treats patients with individualised and humane approach, he can certainly get far better results from his treatments. More about the results will be written, in detail, in a supplementary follow up to this piece.


With great regret, it must be mentioned that despite the significant benefits of Chelation Therapy, as revealed by TACT, many members of AHA are still engaged in finding non existing faults with TACT and to call it dangerous and ineffective. In most of European and other countries Chelation Therapy is not hated. Some Americans doctors will never have the consideration for society that prevails in doctors in other countries.


Click here and here to learn more about Chelation Therapy


Click here to read more about the event given by BV Gokhale held at Moneylife Foundation


(The author is a BTech and MTech (IIT Powai) and works with a team of doctors.)



Dr Sibia

4 years ago

Our experience since 1994 with chelation therapy for ischemic heart disease, cerebral ischemia and peripheral artery disease has been excellent.. My and my wife's training in MBBS and MD caused our first reaction about Chelation Therapy in 1992-1993 to be a biased negative. One of the reasons that ''forced'' me to practice Chelation therapy was when someone close to me had a coronary artery stent failure within just a couple of months. He wanted me to explore other options as he could not afford bypass surgery.
I took training and did his chelation therapy not expecting any benefit - but he made a marvelous recovery. One patient led to another. It took us three years to finally come top terms with our mental bloc\k and finally accept Chelation Therapy as an effective, safe and economical treatment. With the experience of Chelation we ventured into other non-invasive, non-surgical treatment and today when anyone wants to explore non-surgical options for any ailment they contact us.. Anyone wanting information is welcome to contact us. We do wish that there is more research on this and other non-surgical treatments and invite like minded medical and non medical persons to support our efforts.- Dr Sibia


Harold Dsouza

In Reply to Dr Sibia 2 years ago

It will be very appropriate if the patients treated by you post their views so that more people are made aware of the benefits of this method of treatment . No one will be able to counter the testimony of patients , especially those who have undergone angioplasty/bypass surgery without much result .

Dr Sibia

5 years ago

Since we introduced Chelation Therapy in India at Sibia Medical Centre, Ludhiana, in 1994 we  always considered it as a patient proven therapy that has insufficient double blind controlled studies. Our experience of probably over 100,000 intravenous infusions stands testimony to it. We believe that it is near impossible to have such a trial. Even double blind studies in bypass surgery and angioplasty are rare. The mental block against chelation therapy lies in it appearing to be such a simple solution to a complex problem. We welcome anyone to contact us on mb +91-9814034818 to visit us with an open mind and interview our patients. We have several patients who had no option due to being unfit for surgery, recurrence after bypass, failed bypass and those who could not afford bypass who have responded well to chelation therapy. Specially important is the zero mortality during the procedure. Dr Sibia

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