OELWEIN — An Oelwein chiropractor has agreed to pay $79,919 to resolve allegations of improper Medicare and Medicaid billing.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa, based in Cedar Rapids, announced the settlement Tuesday with Bradley Brown and his clinic, Brown Chiropractic, P.C.
He is alleged to have violated the False Claims Act by improperly billing Medicare and Medicaid for chiropractic adjustments after providing free electrical stimulation in order to influence those people to receive chiropractic adjustments from Brown, according to a news release.
The government alleges this conduct violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and, in turn, the False Claims Act. The claims at issue were submitted between Jan. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2016.
Brown disputed the charges in a statement.
“The allegation is false, and is demonstrably false,” he said. “The decision to settle the case was certainly not based upon the merits of the case, and the settlement agreement explicitly states that there is no admission of liability.”
He contends in the statement no evidence was found to substantiate claims of influencing or inducing patients to seek treatment at Brown Chiropractic.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office “performed their own investigation over the last 1 1/2 years, but still failed to provide us with one actual occurrence or inducement,” reads the statement. All of those involved “have been regular patients of our office for decades, several for over a half a century.”
Brown said they returned to the clinic repeatedly over the years “with or without” the free service.
He expressed confidence of prevailing in court but “decided to settle the case because of the relatively low amount of ‘damages’ that they were asking for.”
In addition, Brown cited “the huge cost of litigating against the federal government without the ability to counter sue for legal expenses and our own damages even when we would prevail. We also would have had to drag our patients into court to testify, which I would never do, as well as any reputational damage that may occur over a prolonged litigation.”
The Anti-Kickback Statute’s purpose, in part, is to protect patients and federal health care programs from fraud and abuse by limiting the influence of money or improper incentives on healthcare decisions, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office news release. It is intended to ensure, among other things, that improper financial incentives do not compromise providers’ medical judgments and that inappropriate considerations do not cloud beneficiaries’ decisions when determining which providers to utilize and which services to obtain.
“Our office takes seriously our responsibility to safeguard taxpayer dollars and to ensure a level playing field for healthcare providers,” Peter E. Deegan Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, said in the news release. “We appreciate Dr. Brown’s cooperation in the investigation and hope this settlement sends a message to all providers that they must comply with all applicable rules and regulations or face consequences.”
The allegations resolved by the settlement arose from an investigation led by the Department of Health and Human Services and conducted in conjunction with the State of Iowa’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the State of Iowa’s Medicaid Program Integrity Unit. False Claims Act cases also arise under the whistleblower provisions of the act, which permit a private party with knowledge of false claims to bring suit on behalf of the United States and then share in any recovery.