Consumer Health Digest #12-09
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 15, 2012
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Provoked testing blasted at ACMT/CDC conference. The testing of urine specimens obtained after administration of a chelating agent was severely criticized by several speakers at a seminar on the Use and Abuse of Metal Chelation Therapy held at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on February 29, 2012. The most detailed criticism was made by toxicologist Ann-Michelle Ruha, M.D., who noted:
- The usual way the test is done greatly increases the concentration of heavy metals in the patient's urine.
- The urine specimens, which are typically collected over a 6-hour period following administration of the drug, are compared to urine collected over a 24-hour period from patients who are not premedicated with a chelating agent.
- Shortening the collection time typically quadruples the concentration of heavy metals.
- The chelating drugs can further raise the concentration 12 to 132 times the pre-chelation levels.
The results of provoked testing are typically used to persuade people that "detoxification" with chelation therapy is needed. Quackwatch has further details about this problem.
Help still needed with Doctor's Data lawsuit. In June 2010, Doctor's Data, Inc. sued Dr. Stephen Barrett because it didn't like what what he wrote about their testing of provoked urine specimens. The suit complaint contained 11 counts. In January 2011, he asked the court to dismiss it for failure to plead the allegations necessary to support the elements of of the complaint. In judging an early motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true any factual allegations in the complaint. The judge denied Doctor's Data's request for an injunction; dismissed four counts and part of a fifth; and ruled that discovery can proceed until June 2012. After that, the court can be asked for another ruling based on evidence rather than mere claims. Since the suit is unfounded, Dr. Barrett believes the rest of the suit is likely to be dismissed soon afterward. Unfortunately, the work involved in defending the case is quite time-consuming and will have considerable cost. Contributions to Dr. Barrett's defense are welcome.
Allstate attacks another alleged insurance fraud ring. Allstate Insurance Company has filed its first insurance fraud lawsuit of 2012, seeking to recover $2 million dollars against 27 New York area defendants. The complaint names multiple physicians, chiropractors, medical professional corporations, and clinic lay-owners allegedly used to control the medical professional corporations, including 18 individual defendants currently under federal indictment. The complaint alleges that New York medical professional corporations known as St. John Medical Care, P.C.; Lenox Wellcare Medical, P.C.; CB Chiropractic, LLC; New Age Orthopedic Rehabilitation, P.C.; First Aid Medical Care, P.C.; Rosedale Medical, P.C.; TDL Medical, P.C.; LDT Medical, P.C.; and West End Chiropractic, P.C. were fraudulently incorporated through a scheme using the names of licensed medical physicians and chiropractors, and that laypersons, none of whom were physicians, secretly owned and controlled the professional corporations. The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for no-fault benefits Allstate paid on behalf of its customers during times specified in the suit. Since 2003, Allstate has filed 37 fraud lawsuits in New York State seeking more than $201 million in damages. According to the Insurance Information Institute, New York State is in an insurance fraud crisis and no-fault fraud is costing New Yorkers millions of dollars year-after-year in higher premiums. Allstate and other insurers are pursuing comprehensive reform of the no-fault system.
Florida personal injury insurance reform bill close to enactment. The Florida legislature has passed a very tough personal injury protection insurance reform bill (HB 119) that Florida's governor is expected to sign. HB 119 passed late in the evening on the final day of the 2012 session. The bill:
- Requires clinics to be licensed to treat auto crash passengers
- Makes it a crime to run a clinic without a license
- Requires a fraud warning on all clinic license forms
- Revokes a provider's license for five years and boots the provider from the no-fault system for 10 years if convicted of insurance fraud
- Allows insurers 90 days to investigate claims (up from 30 days). Insurers also must report suspected fraudulent claims to the state fraud unit
- Allows insurers to require examinations under oath
- Requires police crash reports to list names and addresses of all passengers
- Creates a support agency under the CFO to accept grants and gifts to assist with investigating and prosecuting fraud
This page was revised on March 19, 2012.