‘Menendez is a good friend of mine, and he knows I never did anything wrong’

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Charlie Spiering

The Washington Post reports that Sen. Menendez contacted top federal health-care officials on behalf of his doctor friend in Florida who was found to have overbilled the government by $8.9 million.

Menendez (D-N.J.) initially contacted federal officials in 2009 about the government’s audit of Salomon Melgen, complaining to the director overseeing Medicare payments that it was unfair to penalize the doctor because the billing rules were ambiguous, the aides said.

Last year, in a meeting with the acting administrator of the agency in charge of Medicare and Medicaid, Menendez again questioned whether federal auditors had been fair in their assessment of Melgen’s billing for eye injections to treat macular degeneration, the senator’s aides said.

The Post reports that Melgen frequently used Menendez’s name during the investigation, and quotes a former senior federal official familiar with the case:  “He used Menendez’s name all the time. He would say, ‘Menendez is a good friend of mine, and he knows I never did anything wrong,’ ”

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