DOJ: Chiropractor Pleads Guilty, Will Pay $9 Million In False Claims Act Case
On November 23th, 2021, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $9 million False Claims Act (FCA) settlement with a South Carolina-based chiropractor named Daniel McCollum. Mr. McCollum was accused of paying illegal kickbacks and defrauding federal programs. Here, our Florida government program fraud attorneys provide a more detailed explanation of the allegations and highlight the importance of whistleblower disclosures in stopping FCA violations.
Allegations: Billing for Unnecessary Medical Services
A licensed chiropractor, Daniel McCollum operated pain management clinics and a pharmacy across communities in South Carolina. He also owned and operated similar pain management clinics in North Carolina and Tennessee. Collectively, the clinics went by the name of Pain Management Associates. In May of 2019, the DOJ alleges that Mr. McCollum billed federal health programs on fraudulent grounds, in violation of the False Claims Act. The specific allegations are as follows:
- McCollum violates the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (Stark Law) by paying directly for referrals for certain federally-insured patients; and
- McCollum caused expensive, medically unnecessary pain creams to be prescribed for patients—often without the knowledge of their primary care provider.
It is unlawful to engage in any scheme that causes the government to pay fraudulent federal healthcare program claims. Mr. McCollum will pay $9 million to settle the False Claim Act violations. He is currently still facing criminal fraud allegations related to this matter—including maximum penalties of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Qui Tam Lawsuits Let Private Parties Stop Government Billing Fraud
Government billing fraud is a serious program. As federal health spending represents a significant share of the total federal budget, fraud claims involving Medicare and Medicaid are among the most common. For a number of different reasons, it can be difficult for federal authorities to uncover health billing fraud. In many cases, the fraud is well-concealed by the preparators. The False Claims Act helps to address this issue as it empowers private individuals to step into the role of the government and file a type of legal claim called a qui tam lawsuit.
The health care billing fraud perpetrated by South Carolina chiropractor Daniel McCollum came to light after a group of whistleblowers filed a qui tam claim. As the DOJ notes in its press release related to this case, four former employees of Pain Management Associates—Donna Rauch, Muriel Calhoun, Brandy Knight and Karen Mathewson—filed the qui tam claim. Under the False Claims Act, they are collectively entitled to a percentage of the total funds recovered on behalf of taxpayers.
Call Our Florida False Claims Act Attorney for Immediate Help
At Guttman, Freidin & Celler, we are skilled, effective advocates for whistleblowers. If you are considering making a protected disclosure or filing a qui tam claim under the False Claims Act, we can help. Contact us today for a no cost, fully confidential review and assessment of your case. With an office in Miami, we provide statewide and nationwide representation to whistleblowers.