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Doctors deny wrongdoing

Say there was no admission of liability in settlement agreement

Photo Provided SHOWN HERE is the U.S. Attorney of Southern Ohio office building in Columbus, Ohio.

CAMBRIDGE — Two local doctors are speaking out after recently agreeing to pay more than $500,000 to the federal government.

According to information from the U.S. Attorney of Southern Ohio’s office, Drs. Ali and Imad Melhem agreed to pay the money after allegedly submitting false Medicare claims between January 2013 and December 2019. The doctors’ practice as psychiatrists at Neurobehavioral Medicine Consultants, with offices in Bellaire, Cambridge, Steubenville and St. Clairsville.

“Dr. Ali Melhelm is the owner of NMC. Both individuals served as treating psychiatrists at Cambridge Behavioral Hospital in Guernsey County. Ali Melhelm also served as the inpatient facility’s Medical Director,” according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Other alleged violations included admitting “medically ineligible patients to the hospital,” improperly delaying the discharge of patients, and billing for services and visits “that did not occur or were billed at a higher rate than was supported by the records.”

As part of the settlement, the Melhelms paid $549,092 to the United States with $274,546 of that amount being restitution. However, the doctors’ attorneys — Patrick Egan and Robert Cochran — in a statement provided to The Times Leader, said the doctors never actually admitted to submitting false Medicare claims or any other violations as part of the settlement agreement. The settlement is not an admission of liability, they said.

“Dr. (Ali) Melhem is a renowned expert in the treatment of co-occurring psychiatric and substance use Disorders. His role in combating the substance use epidemic, along with Neurobehavioral Medicine Consultants, helped save numerous lives and led to the recovery of many others treated at Cambridge Behavioral Hospital. He denies any wrongdoing in relation to the billing practices of Cambridge Behavioral Hospital. He resolved this matter amicably in order to focus on the important work of his medical practice,” the attorneys wrote.

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