AG Healey Sues North Andover Medical Firm for Fraud

Maura Healey

CPM_LogoA North Andover treatment center has been sued for unlawfully profiting off of patients seeking treatment for opiate addiction, Attorney General Maura Healey said Wednesday.

The Center for Psychiatric Medicine (CPM), 451 Andover St, Suite 195, North Andover, allegedly charged hundreds of dollars per visit while allowing patients to avoid counseling services.

“We allege this treatment center knowingly took advantage of patients by forcing them to pay exorbitant and unnecessary fees for opiate addiction services,” Healey said. “Comprehensive and affordable treatment is critical for those struggling with addiction. This medical practice imposed illegal barriers for hundreds of patients desperately in need of help.”

The civil complaint, filed Wednesday in Essex Superior Court against the Center for Psychiatric Medicine, alleges that since October, 2010, the business increased its profit by charging hundreds of its patients cash fees to receive Suboxone treatment, a medication covered by MassHealth that is used to treat narcotic opiate addiction under a physician’s supervision. Patients were also allegedly told by CPM that they could avoid required weekly therapy sessions and monthly physician visits by paying cash instead.

CPM charged patients fees as high as $325 in cash for an initial visit and between $150 and $200 in cash for each subsequent visit, when they should not have been charged at all. MassHealth would have reimbursed anywhere from $15 to $75 for these claims if submitted, the attorney general said. Providers are required by law to only accept payments from MassHealth for services to the plan’s members.

According to investigators, CPM staff allegedly told new patients the center did not accept MassHealth for Suboxone treatment and their program was cash only. The attorney general’s office estimates CPM unlawfully obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from patients.

Documents obtained during the investigation also revealed patients were allegedly required to sign a waiver form, stating that they agreed to pay in cash for their Suboxone treatment. Prior to the waiver, CPM discussed the cash policy verbally with patients.

The civil complaint seeks restitution for the victims, civil penalties, attorneys’ fees, costs and injunctive relief as a result of violations of MassHealth regulations.

A preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for April 28 in Essex Superior Court. Healey is seeking a court order prohibiting CPM from charging patients cash, and preventing the center from removing any current MassHealth patients from its Suboxone program that is required to include comprehensive counseling services.

“MassHealth members will suffer irreparable harm, namely, potential withdrawal symptoms, and potential relapse and renewed illegal use of opioids because of the lack of Suboxone treatment for their opioid dependency,” according to the complaint.

CPM is a MassHealth provider employing nine physicians who are legally authorized to prescribe Suboxone. In addition to substance abuse treatment, CPM also provides services involving psychiatric evaluations, psychiatric medication management, psychological testing and individual therapy.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Goldstein and Investigator Christopher Cecchini of the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Division.

One thought on “AG Healey Sues North Andover Medical Firm for Fraud

  1. This story isn’t even half of the story. In addition to everything named above, the AG is requiring that every suboxone patient attend mandatory group therapy sessions in order to have Masshealth pay for prescriptions.

    Even patients who have more than a decade clean will be forced to reunite with those actively using. Their phsychiatry records will be partially disclosed to these individuals and they will be forced to relive their days of active addicition.

    The only option for MassHealth patients to maintain any dignity or sense of normalcy in their lives, will be to remove themselves from MassHealth entirely and pay more than $1000 a month for their prescriptions.

    Group therapy is preposterous and illegal to mandate in this regard but they have.