Mckenzie, Tenn. – A whole neighborhood is pleading the federal government not to penalize among its only physicians.
Dr. Bryan Merrick has practiced medication in Carroll County, Tennessee for more than thirty years.
He is implicated of Medicare scams and states the possible penalty would end his profession.
Many say he’s guilty of absolutely nothing more than a clerical mistake and the federal government is going too far.
The dispute comes as the federal government continues its crackdown on Medicare scams.
” We are sending out a clear message throughout this nation that we will find you and you will pay a really high cost for what you have done,” stated U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at Medicare scams press conference previously this year.
At the McKenzie Medical Center in rural Tennessee, people might not think one of their only medical professionals had been implicated of scams.
” I was stunned. I had no idea these issues existed,” stated Dr. Bryan Merrick.
The Federal firm that supervises Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is threatening to withdraw Dr. Merrick’s right to bill the program.
CMS declares he sent costs for dealing with 10 clients who had currently passed away.
News Channel 5 Investigates asked, “You would concur that sounds bad.”.
Dr. Merrick reacted, “It does. It does at first.”.
Merrick firmly insisted these were clerical errors because a few of the countless clients he sees have the very same very first and last names.
He stated in numerous cases a billing clerk struck the incorrect button and charged Medicare for dealing with the dead person rather of the one who lived.
The other cases included file evaluations for Medicare clients who had simply left the health center.
He looked at their files and changed their medication uninformed they had currently passed away.
He stated the overall quantity of the supposed billing mistakes was just $670.
News Channel 5 Investigates asked, “Would you threaten your profession for $670?
Dr. Merrick reacted, “No way.”
Merrick is the only medical professional accredited to check out echocardiograms in all of Carroll County, and he is among just 2 licensed internal medicine doctors.
The Carroll County Mayor is pleading the federal government to reevaluate.
” What are we going to do if we lose him? It’s difficult to hire medical professionals to rural Tennessee,” stated Carroll County Mayor Kenny McBride.
It appears more like they wish to make an example of somebody than really fix an issue,” McBride stated.
The McKenzie City Mayor, Jill Holland composed a letter mentioning “lives will be lost” if Merrick is not able to reward the clients he’s seen for years.
” It will ravage this neighborhood to lose him,” stated Pastor Steve Davis who is also a patient.
Federal guidelines specify a physician can have Medicare billing advantages withdrawn for declaring to deal with more than 3 dead clients.
Merrick stated the Medicare errors represent less than a tenth of one percent of his total billing to Medicare.
” With the method, they are taking, they are going to injure a lot of great physicians,” Dr. Merrick stated.
He has been seeing clients for months since getting the news – hoping Medicare will change its mind.
Now the neighborhood understands they might lose their physician.
” We lost a child a number of years back and Dr. Merrick was right there with us at the funeral home,” Pastor Davis stated.
Merrick stated the huge bulk of his clients are on Medicare or Medicaid.
He stated if he cannot bill them he will have no option but to close.
A hard way to end his long profession.
” It might stain my credibility and I do not deserve it. I did not personally or expertly do anything incorrectly,” Dr. Merrick stated.
A representative with CMS stated they cannot talk about this open case.
Dr. Merrick can appeal and any suspension would last just 3 years.
Dr. Merrick stated at age 62 that would efficiently end his profession.