One of the largest pain management groups in the Southeast is closing multiple clinics amid worsening financial troubles and a federal criminal investigation that targeted its former chief executive.
This week, Tennessee-based Comprehensive Pain Specialists advised patients and employees about clinic closures, leaving patients scrambling to find new doctors willing to prescribe them opioids.
Based in the Nashville area, CPS opened in 2005 and quickly grew into a powerhouse, which has treated as many as 48,000 pain patients a month.
Until last summer, the company was run by CEO John Davis, who had led the company since 2011. In April, Davis was indicted for Medicare fraud, accused of receiving $770,000 in bribes from the head of another company. Davis allegedly took the money from Brenda Montgomery, the CEO of CCC Medical, Inc., then referred her patients, whom she could use to file tainted claims for Medicare reimbursement, according to federal court records.
In court records, prosecutors allege Davis disguised some of the bribes by selling Montgomery a sham company, ProMed Solutions, a company with “no business operations, facilities, property, employees or assets. Davis paid $150,000.
Davis, 40, of Brentwood, and Montgomery, 70, of Camden, have both pleaded not guilty. Montgomery also was charged last month in a separate but similar case in which she was accused of paying more than $1.2 million in bribes.
The shutdown of the clinics comes amid growing backlash against the use of opioids for treating chronic pain. The opioid crisis has cost the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion since 2001, estimates Altarum, an economic-research firm. Since 1999, at least 200,000 people have died nationwide from overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the company’s website, CPS now operates 40 clinics in eight states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee; half are in Tennessee. All 21 clinics in the state would reportedly be closing by the end of the month. CPS clinics in the 105.7 News area that are scheduled to close include ones in Oak Ridge, Cleveland, Maryville and Athens.
CPS was the subject of a November 2017 investigation by Kaiser Health News scrutinized its Medicare billings for urine drug testing. Medicare paid the company at least $11 million for urine screenings and related tests in 2014, when five of CPS’ medical professionals stood among the nation’s top such Medicare billers. One nurse practitioner at a CPS clinic in Cleveland, Tennessee, generated $1.1 million in urine-test billing that year, according to Medicare records analyzed by KHN.