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