Texas Pain Management Physicians Pay $3.9 Million For Alleged Unnecessary Urine Drug Testing

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on October 22, 2021 that two Texas physicians, Robert Wills and Brannon Frank, have agreed to pay $3.9 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by knowingly billing Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE for medically unnecessary urine drug testing.

The settlements resolve the government’s allegations that the physicians, formerly co-owners of now-defunct Austin Pain Associates located in Austin, Texas, knowingly caused the submission of false claims to federal healthcare programs by ordering excessive and unnecessary urine drug testing for patients without any individualized assessment of clinical need. The government alleged that starting in 2011, all urine drug tests ordered by Austin Pain Associates’ physicians, including Wills and Frank, were performed at Austin Pain Associates’ in-house laboratory. The government alleged that Wills and Frank drafted the testing protocols that resulted in unnecessary tests, were aware that the in-house laboratory was conducting an excessive number of tests on urine samples, and that Austin Pain Associates could not remain profitable without the income generated from unnecessary testing. Pursuant to their respective settlement agreements, Wills has agreed to pay $2,100,000 to settle these allegations and Frank has agreed to pay $1,800,000.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division stated wih regard to the settlements, “The provision of medical services should be based on a patient’s medical needs, not on a physician’s desire to increase profits. The Department of Justice is committed to taking appropriate action to safeguard the integrity of federal healthcare programs and the welfare of their beneficiaries.”

The civil settlement includes the resolution of claims brought under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act by Jennifer Nuessner and Robert Hoffman, former employees of Austin Pain Associates. Under those provisions, a private party can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of any recovery. As part of the resolutions with Frank and Wills, the two whistleblowers will receive a total of approximately $618,000 from the federal share of the settlements. The qui tam case is captioned United States ex rel. Nuessner, et al. v. Austin Pain Associates, LLC, et al., 5:16-CV-1125-FB (W.D. Tex.).

If you have information regarding false claims having been submitted to Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, other federal health care programs, or to other federal agencies/programs, and the information is not publically known and no actions have been taken by the government with regard to recovering the false claims, you should promptly consult with a False Claims Act attorney (also known as qui tam attorneys) in your U.S. state who may investigate the basis of your False Claims Act allegations and who may also assist you in bringing a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the United States, if appropriate, for which you may be entitled to receive a portion of the recovery received by the U.S. government.

Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with qui tam lawyers (False Claims Act lawyers) in your U.S. state who may assist you with a False Claims Act lawsuit.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2022 at 5:27 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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