After he was diagnosed with leukemia last August, Augusta businessman Julian Osbon said he could not afford to battle the disease and the government’s civil Medicare fraud case against him and his company, so his attorneys settled it for $1.4 million.
“I just didn’t think I could continue the fight with the (Department of Justice) and fight this disease at the same time, and my family encouraged me to do this,” he said Thursday.
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia announced the settlement, which includes a five-year ban from Medicare for Osbon. He said the settlement does not include any criminal charges against him.
Osbon and his company, Augusta Medical Systems, were accused of billing Medicare for $690,000 at a time when the company was not an approved Medicare provider.
Osbon, an erectile dysfunction treatment pioneer, said previously that he was closing one company he founded – Soma Blue, which was an approved Medicare provider – and was starting in 2003 to operate Augusta Medical Systems, which was applying for a Medicare provider number. Both companies were housed for a time in the same office on Broad Street.
Osbon said previously that there might have been a few billing mistakes between the companies but that he did not believe there was any intention to defraud Medicare. The U.S. attorney contended that Osbon closed Soma Blue to avoid paying a court judgement and opened Augusta Medical Systems to get around that.
Osbon said that he stands behind what he said previously but that there is no point in addressing it further because he wants to put it behind him. Since his diagnosis, he has been in and out of the hospital, he said.
“I was in the hospital a few months ago, and they didn’t think I was going to make it,” he said.
After spending more than $1 million to fight the lawsuit, it seemed more prudent to settle and focus on his illness, Osbon said. He is in remission now and is taking four medications, which he will probably have to continue for a couple of years.
“I’m doing well,” Osbon said. “I’m having to stay home and get my strength back. I’m planning on beating it, and I feel like I will.”