A Kansas chiropractic clinic faces a False Claims Act lawsuit seeking more than $1.4 million on allegations that it wrongfully billed Medicare for neuropathy treatments that didn’t qualify for reimbursement or were never provided to patients.
The lawsuit, filed Dec. 21 in federal court, accuses Kansas City Health & Wellness Clinic and its owners, brothers Ryan Schell and Tyler Schell, of soliciting Medicare beneficiaries with ads claiming they could heal peripheral neuropathy and “rejuvenate the nerve fibers,” according to Kansas City’s KCUR 89.3.
Peripheral neuropathy results from damage to the peripheral nerves, causing weakness, numbness, and stabbing, burning, or tingling sensations, usually in the hands and feet. It is most commonly brought about by diabetes.
The False Claims Act lawsuit alleges that the defendants billed Medicare for procedures that patients did not need, were not reasonable courses of treatment, or were never provided. These treatments included nerve conduction tests, nerve block injections, ultrasonic guidance, and treatments using vasopneumatic devices, the lawsuit alleges.
For instance, the defendants billed Medicare for treatments using vasopneumatic devices to reduce swelling when the services provided actually involved the use of massage chairs.
The lawsuit alleges the false claims amounted to more than $467,000 in a period of about 26 months between October 2011 and December 2013.
An individual or organization held in violation of the False Claims Act is liable for three times the dollar amount that the government is defrauded, plus potential civil penalties of $5,000 to $10,000 for each false claim. That means Kansas City Health & Wellness Clinic and its owners could be ordered to pay at least $1.4 million.