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Abuse Treatment Center to Pay Big Bucks in Medicaid Fraud Case

August 9, 2018

A Sun Staff Report

BOSTON -- A North Andover-based substance abuse treatment center with patients from the Greater Lowell area will pay $612,000, after unlawfully charging cash for opioid addiction treatment already covered by the state’s Medicaid Program, Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office announced Thursday.

From October 2010 to November 2015, the court found Center for Psychiatric Medicine, or CPM, and its owners -- Joseph Campione of Merrimac, and Thomas J. McLaughlin of Lincoln -- charged its patients cash fees to receive Suboxone treatment. Patients struggling with opioid addiction are prescribed Suboxone to suppress withdrawal and cravings for opioids.

“This center stole from its own patients seeking treatment for opioid addiction and put up barriers that could have had fatal consequences,” Healey said in a press release.

Her office filed a civil complaint in Essex Superior Court in April 2015 and won on summary judgment.

Prosecutors allege patients were incorrectly told CPM did not accept MassHealth. Instead the center regularly charged patients fees as high as $325 for initial services and continued charging them monthly fees up to $200 for additional visits.

CPM told patients that they could avoid required weekly therapy sessions and monthly physician visits by paying cash, prosecutors alleged.

The settlement will provide 100 percent restitution for all patients wrongfully charged by CPM, according to a press release. Eligible patients will be contacted in coming weeks and any funds that cannot be returned to MassHealth members will be transferred to the Commonwealth’s Unclaimed Property Division where it will be held until claimed by its rightful owner.

According to a press release, Healey’s office has brought numerous civil and criminal enforcement actions in similar cases. In November 2017, Healey sent a letter warning doctors who provide substance use disorder treatment that her office will take action against providers who unlawfully require cash payments for treatments covered by MassHealth.

Healey’s office encourages anyone aware of similar violations to contact the Medicaid Fraud Division at 617-963-2360 or file a complaint through the Attorney General’s website.

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