The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

August 23, 1995, Wednesday, ALL EDITIONS

Government halting payments to psychiatrist who has collected millions

BYLINE: Carrie Teegardin; STAFF WRITER


LENGTH: 376 words

Dr. Andrew Shankman, a St. Simons Island psychiatrist who has been paid millions of dollars from government health programs, is being suspended from receiving payments from Medicare and Medicaid, officials confirmed Tuesday.
Shankman’s payments are being cut off after reviews of evidence gathered during an FBI raid of his offices last week. The raid was the culmination of a yearlong inquiry by the investigative unit of the Georgia Department of Medical Assistance (DMA), which administers the Medicaid program.
“This investigation shows the department is committed toward eliminating fraud and abuse in the Georgia Medicaid program,” said Wayne Blank, director of DMA’s legal and regulatory services section.
The FBI seized financial and patient records from Shankman’s St. Simons, Waycross and Savannah offices.
The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Savannah refused to comment on the case. But DMA has characterized its review of Shankman as a criminal investigation.
Shankman, one of several doctors included in a Sunday Journal- Constitution article about the Medicare program, has been under investigation for billings for group therapy programs he has set up in nursing homes across Georgia.
Claims records indicate that Shankman billed the government for more than 20,000 group-therapy claims in 1992 alone. But Shankman did not run many of the sessions himself, as required by both Medicare and Medicaid.
Medicaid officials have already suspended future payments to Shankman. The Medicare program’s suspension should be final within 10 days, officials said.
Shankman, when reached by the Journal-Constitution last week, refused to comm ent on the investigation. He could not be reached late Tuesday. But in a interview in June, Shankman defended his practice and criticized the Medicaid program.
“If a doctor sees more patients than the average doctor, that doctor is singled out and crucified,” Shankman said of Medicaid.
Shankman earned more than $ 600,000 from Medicare in 1992, placing him among the 15 Georgia doctors who earned the most from the program, the Journal-Constitution analysis found.
Shankman has earned more $ 2 million from Medicaid since 1992. He has the right to appeal the suspension.