On Monday, September 27, 2021, a Massachusetts Federal Judge denied CleanSlate Center’s and its founder Dr. Amanda Wilson’s attempt to dismiss a False Claims Act case against it brought by our client. CleanSlate Centers operates a national chain of clinics in Massachusetts and nine other states. These clinics provide medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse, including opioid and alcohol addiction.
As we have previously explained and as described in our Amended Complaint, CleanSlate Centers exploited the national opioid epidemic in a scheme to build and operate a chain of for-profit addiction-treatment centers. CleanSlate’s indifference to governing rules and regulations resulted in the government paying tens of millions of dollars for services. These included unnecessary, unreasonable, and often harmful medical procedures and laboratory tests. Under the False Claims Act, a private citizen known as a “relator” whistleblower for fraud against the government. The whistleblower files a sealed complaint on behalf of the government. If the case is successful, as here, the relator is entitled to a share of the government’s recovery.
Our client, a former Divisional Medical Director, identified numerous troubling lapses of care. These include instances in which tests revealed use of drugs of abuse, indicative of significant relapse. However, these tests did not result in any change in care, or even acknowledgment by the responsible practitioners. In one particularly tragic case, Defendants’ policies led to the abandonment of a patient who lost their insurance and relapsed. Ultimately, this patient overdosed and died.
The Court Denies CleanSlate Center’s Motion to Dismiss the False Claims Act Case
After reviewing more than 75 pages of pleadings filed by CleanSlate Centers and Dr. Wilson, Judge Mastroianni denied their request to end the case in a concise six paragraph order.
As the judge described the allegations, “Defendants’ for-profit opioid-addiction treatment centers impermissibly billed Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary medical tests and inadequately supervised doctor visits, essentially operating as ‘pill mills.’”
Further, Judge Mastroianni concluded that the complaint adequately alleges FCA claims against CleanSlate and its founder Dr. Wilson for the submission of false claims, false statements, and reverse false claims. In particular, he determined that the Relator had adequately alleged that CleanSlate and Dr. Wilson violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law by ordering medically unnecessary tests and sending them to the Cleanslate lab, which Dr. Wilson owned. Defendants then submitted these medically unnecessary and impermissibly self-referred claims to Medicare and Medicaid for reimbursement in violation of the FCA.
Likewise, the Complaint adequately pleads defendants’ failure to supervise the nurse practitioners and physicians assistants who provided the majority, and in some cases all of, the patient care at CleanSlate clinics in violation of Medicare rules.
The Decision Opens The Door to Recovery for CleanSlate’s Fraud
This decision means that the False Claims Act case against CleanSlate and Dr. Wilson will go forward. This opens the door for the federal and state governments to recover for fraud involving their treatment centers. CleanSlate centers are located in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky.
As we previously reported, in October of 2020 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed a Complaint in Intervention in our case which charged CleanSlate Centers and its founder Dr. Amanda Wilson with much of the same fraudulent conduct involving the treatment of Massachusetts patients. In his ruling, Judge Mastroianni noted that CleanSlate and Dr. Wilson are in the process of settling those claims.
Whistleblower Law Collaborative
The Whistleblower Law Collaborative LLC, based in Boston, devotes its practice entirely to representing clients in bringing actions under the federal and state False Claims Acts and other whistleblower programs. Under the False Claims Act, a private citizen (known as a “relator”) who suspects or knows of fraud against the government can act as a whistleblower and file a sealed complaint on behalf of the government. If the case is successful, the relator is entitled to a share of the government’s recovery. Among the firm’s many successes is the government’s $465 million settlement with Mylan for failing to pay the correct Medicaid rebates on its high–priced drug EpiPen.
For more information, contact the Whistleblower Law Collaborative LLC at 617.366.2800.