Friday, January 9, 2009

“Alternative Medicine” Clinic Operator Arraigned on Federal Health Care Fraud Charges

CHAUNSAY BECKWITH, 46, of Tucker, Georgia, made an initial appearance before a federal magistrate January 8 on charges of health care fraud in connection with the operation of her clinic, “International Alternative Medicine, Incorporated.” She was indicted on 35 counts of health care fraud by a federal grand jury on December 16, 2008.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said of the case, “Many people are familiar with hyperbaric chambers as having a number of legitimate medical and practical uses, as varied as helping burn victims and even scuba divers in their recovery. This defendant allegedly turned a hyperbaric chamber into a means of generating over a million dollars in fraudulent claims. Health care fraud raises the costs of health care for everyone.”

According to Nahmias, the indictment, and information presented in court today: Between 2003 and 2007, CHAUNSAY BECKWITH, an owner/operator who does not hold any type of medical license, provided hyperbaric oxygen therapy to numerous patients in her clinic, International Alternative Medicine, Inc., located at 4450 Hugh Howell Road, in Tucker, Georgia. None of the patients were diagnosed with medical conditions that made them eligible to receive payments from health care benefit programs. The indictment further alleges that BECKWITH submitted $1,577,827 in claims to insurance companies and Medicare, which included false diagnosis codes that enabled her to fraudulently receive $1,035,144 in payments for the hyperbaric chamber treatments.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorney David E. McClernan is prosecuting the case.

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