September 7, 2017

Hartford addiction center to pay $627K to settle false-claims allegations

A Hartford addiction treatment nonprofit will pay $627,000 to resolve allegations that it violated state and federal law by falsely certifying that its medical director complied with the law in performing his job, authorities said Thursday.

The Hartford Dispensary and its former top executive, Paul McLaughlin, will pay to resolve the charges, which were filed under the federal and state False Claims Acts. The substance abuse treatment facility operates outpatient treatment programs through nine clinics.

To be certified as an opioid treatment provider, the facility must formally designate a medical director, who assumes responsibility for administering all medical services performed at the clinics. The medical director is also responsible for ensuring that the facility is in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, said U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.

Both the state and federal government allege that the 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 law.

The government further alleged that the false representations and certifications led to false Medicaid program claims.

The settlement payment by the dispensary and McLaughlin covers conduct occurring from Jan. 1, 2009 through Nov. 20, 2015.

"Health care providers must be completely honest when certifying information to the government, and the failure to do so will have serious consequences," stated Daly. "The U.S. Attorney's office is committed to vigorously pursuing health care providers who make false representations to federal healthcare programs."

In a statement, Hartford Dispensary said while it strongly disputes the allegations it is pleased to have resolved the matter, noting:

"After cooperation with the government, The Hartford Dispensary ... has fully resolved all issues that were raised about its compliance with a regulation requiring that a "medical director" oversee patient treatment. At all times, Hartford Dispensary has had physicians supervising the delivery of all patient care. While the title "medical director" had previously been reserved for a physician member of Hartford Dispensary's Board of Directors, Hartford Dispensary always had a chief of the medical staff fulfilling the role of medical director in full compliance with applicable regulatory requirements."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated with comment from the Hartford Dispensary.

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