Texas pain physicians to settle claims of ordering unneeded tests for $3.9M

Two Texas physicians agreed to pay $3.9 million to resolve allegations they submitted false claims to government insurers for medically unnecessary urine drug testing, the Justice Department said Oct. 22.

Robert Wills, MD, and Brannon Frank, MD, are pain management physicians who were also the former co-owners of now-defunct Austin (Texas) Pain Associates. Dr. Wills will pay $2.1 million to settle the allegations, and Dr. Frank will pay $1.8 million.

Prosecutors allege that starting in 2011, Drs. Wills and Frank knowingly caused the submission of false claims by ordering "excessive and unnecessary" urine drug tests for patients without completing assessments of medical necessity. Prosecutors also allege that the physicians submitted the urine tests to Austin Pain Associates' in-house laboratory and that the pain management clinic couldn't remain profitable without the income generated from the unnecessary tests. 

The settlement resolves claims brought by whistleblowers Jennifer Nuessner and Robert Hoffman, former employees of Austin Pain Associates. 

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