Connecticut Substance Abuse Treatment Provider Pays $627K to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
United States Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen today announced that a Connecticut substance abuse treatment provider and its former CEO will pay $627,000 to resolve allegations that they violated the federal and state False Claims Acts.
THE HARTFORD DISPENSARY and THE HARTFORD DISPENSARY ENDOWMENT CORPORATION (collectively, “Hartford Dispensary”) is a healthcare organization that provides behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment services. It operates various outpatient treatment programs through its nine clinics located in Connecticut. PAUL McLAUGHLIN is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Hartford Dispensary.
To be certified as an opioid treatment provider (OTP), the OTP must formally designate a medical director, who assumes responsibility for administering all medical services performed by the OTP. The medical director is also responsible for ensuring that the OTP is in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
The government alleges that Hartford Dispensary and McLaughlin made repeated false representations and false certifications to federal and state authorities that Hartford Dispensary had a medical director, as defined by relevant regulations, who was performing the duties and responsibilities required by federal and state law. The government further alleges that these false representations and certifications were material to false or fraudulent claims submitted to the Medicaid program.
To resolve the government’s allegations under the federal and state False Claims Acts, Hartford Dispensary and McLaughlin have agreed to pay $627,000, which covers conduct occurring from January 1, 2009 through November 20, 2015.
A complaint against Hartford Dispensary was filed in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the both the federal and state False Claims Acts. The relators (whistleblowers), Russell Buchner and Charles Hatheway, former employees of Hartford Dispensary, will receive a share of the proceeds of the settlement in the amount of $112,860. The whistleblower provisions of both the federal and state False Claims Acts provide that the whistleblower is entitled to receive a percentage of the proceeds of any judgment or settlement recovered by the government.
“Health care providers must be completely honest when certifying information to the government, and the failure to do so will have serious consequences,” stated U.S. Attorney Daly. “The U.S. Attorney’s office is committed to vigorously pursuing health care providers who make false representations to federal health care programs.”
“Medicaid providers are required to comply with the applicable rules of the program and to certify honestly their compliance,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “I’m grateful to our state and federal partners for their continued cooperation and coordination as we work to protect our taxpayer-funded healthcare programs.”
This matter was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard M. Molot and Auditor Kevin Saunders, and by Assistant Attorneys General Michael Cole and Gregory O’Connell of the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General.
People who suspect health care fraud are encouraged to report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS or the Health Care Fraud Task Force at (203) 777-6311.