Public Safety

Oelwein chiropractor pays $80K to settle billing allegations

Government said free electrical stimulation influenced care

CEDAR RAPIDS — An Oelwein chiropractor has agreed to pay nearly $80,000 to settle allegations that he provided patients on Medicare and Medicaid free electrical stimulation to influence them to receive more chiropractic care at his clinic.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in a news release Tuesday, said Bradley J. Brown and his clinic, Brown Chiropractic in Oelwein, will pay $79,919 to resolve allegations that he violated the False Claims Act by improperly billing Medicare and Medicaid for these chiropractic adjustments after providing free electrical stimulation, which help muscle spasms and inflammation.

This practice violated the Anti-Kickback statute and, in turn, the False Claims Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The Medicare and Medicaid claims were submitted by Brown’s office between Jan. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2016.

The Anti-Kickback provision protects patients and federal health care programs from fraud and abuse by limiting the influence of money or improper incentives on health care decisions, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The statute is intended to ensure, among other things, that improper financial incentives don’t compromise patients’ medical judgments and determine what services and medical providers they choose.

“Our office takes seriously our responsibility to safeguard taxpayer dollars and to ensure a level playing field for health care providers,” U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan Jr. said in a statement. “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.”

Brown, in a statement to The Gazette, said Tuesday the decision to settle was not based on the merits of the case.

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He points out the settlement agreement states there is no admission of liability. There was no evidence, he said, that the clinic offered free electrical stimulations to a patient to “influence or induce” that person to have treatment at this office.

Brown also said in the statement that all the patients involved have been regular patients of the office for “decades” and have returned to the clinic with or without free electrical stimulations.

“Although confident that we would prevail, we decided to settle the case because of the relatively low amount of ‘damages’ that they were asking for, as well as the huge cost of litigating against the federal government without the ability to countersue for legal expenses and our own damages even when we would prevail,” Brown said.

The investigation into the allegations was led by the DIowa epartment of Health and Human Services and conducted in conjunction with the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the sgtate’s Medicaid Program Integrity Unit.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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