Medicare Payment Suspension Lifted, Alabama Pain Center to Remain Open

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – After ongoing difficulties with Medicare, Alabama Pain Center has received news that the suspension of Medicare payments to the clinic has been lifted, according to a press release.

Had the suspension of Medicare payments not been lifted, the clinic could have closed its doors on November 15, placing approximately 2,700 patients without a care provider and 124 staff members without jobs.

“This is huge. It means so much to our patients, their families and our staff. The prospect of losing our ability to care for our family of patients has been heartbreaking and has required great faith in recent weeks,” said Chief Medical Officer and Founder of Alabama Pain Center Dr. Dean Willis.

The suspension of Medicare payments was the result of an audit of the clinic that has been ongoing since January.   In late August, the independent company performing the audit, AdvanceMed, chose to continue the audit and suspend all Medicare payments to the clinic while the review continued.

“I cannot begin to express my appreciation to each of the patients, staff and referring physicians who took the time to make sure their voices were heard in Washington. The Alabama Pain Center was rescued in its final hour and in the face of insurmountable odds because of our dedication to serve patients with excellence and integrity, our trust that reason and justice would prevail and through the grace of God himself,” Willis said.

Alabama Pain Center held a standing room only a meeting about the possible closure of the clinic on October 15.  More than 1,000 patients and their family members attended the meeting.  A petition to keep the Alabama Pain Center open generated more than 1,000 signatures in ten days, too.

“I don’t understand how they can deny us, all of us, our medications,” said patient Pat Brunker.  “And I don’t know where to go.   I don’t know what will happen to us if he shuts his doors.”

The review by AdvanceMed will continue, but the clinic will be able to continue operating, according to the press release.  All but one claim against Alabama Pain Center was dropped earlier this month.

“I want to thank CMS/Medicare for focusing on our patients and the vital care we provide to them.” said Dr. Willis. “I applaud them for their efforts to stop fraud, waste and abuse and look forward to working with them to resolve the one remaining issue.”