Georgia physician could face $27M fine for false diagnoses claims

A Georgia physician could face more than $27 million in fines after a jury found he had violated the False Claims Act by submitting false diagnoses to Medicare, according to an article by law firm Husch Blackwell published by JD Supra on June 22.

Charles Adams, MD, an alternative medicine physician, used chelation therapy and edetate calcium disodium (EDTA) to address a range of conditions, including atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, headaches, GI ailments, fatigue and other generalized symptoms, according to a June 16 Justice Department news release. EDTA is recognized by the FDA to treat only lead poisoning and lead encephalopathy. Dr. Adams reported that his patients suffered from heavy metal poisoning to receive payment from Medicare.

In August 2018, the government filed a civil complaint alleging that between November 2008 and September 2015, Dr. Adams knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary and "alternative" chelation therapy using EDTA. The complaint said Dr. Adams unlawfully received approximately $1.1 million in Medicare reimbursements.

OOn June 14, 2023, a jury found Dr. Adams submitted more than 4,400 false claims to Medicare. The jury awarded more than $1.1 million in damages. A civil penalty will be imposed for each claim before the final verdict is entered, and it is anticipated the final amount could reach more than $27 million.

"For claims prior to 2015, when the statute was amended to increase the per-claim penalties, the minimum penalty is $5,500 per false claim," according to the article. "That means that [Dr. Adams] is now likely to see the court impose a judgment of at least $27.5 million: $3.3 million in trebled false claims and $24.2 million in penalties."

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