Connecticut-Based Substance Abuse Treatment Provider Paying $627,000 In Settlement

The Hartford Dispensary, a Manchester-based substance-abuse treatment provider, and its former CEO are paying $627,000 to settle allegations that they violated federal and state False Claims Acts, the U.S. Attorney’s office said Thursday.

The group provides behavioral health and substance-use disorder treatment at nine clinics throughout the state.

The government alleges that the Hartford Dispensary and its former president and CEO, Paul McLaughlin, “made repeated false representation and false certification to federal and state authorities” that the organization had a medical director.

To be a certified opioid treatment provider, the Hartford Dispensary had to have a medical director who was responsible for administering all medical services and ensuring that the organization was in compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulation, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

“Health care providers must be completely honest when certifying information to the government, and the failure to do so will have serious consequences,” U.S. Attorney Daly said in a news release. “The U.S. Attorney’s office is committed to vigorously pursuing health care providers who make false representations to federal health care programs.”

The $627,000 settlement covers allegations covering a period from Jan. 1, 2009, through Nov. 20, 2015, the release said. A portion of the settlement, as included in a provision under the False Claims Act, will go toward the two former Hartford Dispensary employees who reported the allegations to officials. They will receive $112,860, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

A lawyer for the organization responded in a statement to the Courant: “Hartford Dispensary, a non-profit organization, has fully resolved regulatory issues that were raised about its compliance with a regulation requiring that a ‘medical director’ oversee treatment.

“ At all times, Hartford Dispensary had a physician supervising the delivery of care. While the title ‘medical director’ had previously been reserved for a physician member of HD’s Board of Directors, HD always had a Chief of the Medical Staff fulfilling the role of medical director. Although HD strongly disputes that this structure was not in compliance with the regulations, and this resolution involved no admission of wrongdoing by it or its former executive director, it is pleased to resolve this matter and to continuing its commitment to rigorous regulatory compliance and providing excellent care.”

The attorney’s office asks people who suspect health care fraud to report it by calling 1-800-447-8477.

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