Dubuque clinic paying fines for improperly filling prescriptions

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A Dubuque health clinic has agreed to pay more than $40,000 in fines for improperly issuing or refilling prescriptions.

According to federal court documents, Crescent Community Health Center is paying $40,000 in penalties after employees issued eight refills for controlled substances in 2013 despite not having the credentials or authority to do so. The incidents happened over five months in 2013. The refills were paid for by Medicare or Medicaid.

While the center did not concede liability, they did admit the eight refills were not supported by documentation.

The clinic will also pay more than $7,500 in penalties for employees improperly issuing or refilling prescriptions for 71 non-controlled substances over the same period. Those were also eventually paid for by Medicare or Medicaid.

“Health care providers should be on notice that our office will use every appropriate enforcement tool to curb the availability of unauthorized or misused prescription drugs,” said United States Attorney Peter E. Deegan, Jr. in a written statement “This office takes seriously its obligation to enforce the nation’s laws aimed at protecting public health and taxpayer dollars.”

The case was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the State of Iowa’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit as part of the False Claims Act.

Crescent Community Health Center issued the following statement:
"Crescent Community Health Center has reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa relating to prescriptions provided to Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries during a limited period in 2013 when its Medical Director was on medical leave. Rather than prolong what would be an extremely costly and burdensome legal process, Crescent is pleased to conclude the review through this agreement. While we disagree with most of the government’s claims, we appreciate the efforts of the US Attorney’s Office to bring this matter to a resolution. Our prescription practices have been reviewed by the United States Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) and have been found to be appropriate and reflective of the standard of care in the industry. Crescent Community Health Center is a federally qualified health center in Dubuque, Iowa providing medical and dental care to more than 6,000 patients. Located in a medically under served area, Crescent provides individuals with needed primary care and preventive health services regardless of ability to pay. In 2017 Crescent received the Health Center Quality Leader award from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration. Health Care Quality Leaders represent the top 30% of all health centers who achieved the best overall clinical outcomes."