FBI and IRS shut quack clinics

16 Jul

Readers may remember the investigations by health insurers of CARE clinics. Now the FBI have become involved and CARE clinics have shut.

CARE Clinics, an autism clinic on Bee Cave Road that was being investigated by insurance companies over insurance claims, was raided by the FBI and IRS agents today.

The clinic has been closed, perhaps permanently.

Agents are removing dozens of boxes of documents, but they declined to say what they are looking for. They directed inquiries to Special IRS Agent Mike Lemoine, who did not immediately return a call.
[…]
CARE clinics mainly treated children with autism using alternative therapies typically frowned on by mainstream doctors. Though some parents who brought their children to CARE Clinics say they’ve seen improvements in their child’s autistic behaviors, critics say the clinic uses therapies that lack strong scientific evidence. The clinic commonly uses intravenous chelation on patients, a controversial treatment that introduces a chemical solution into the body to bind with a metal or other substance to be removed.

17 Responses to “FBI and IRS shut quack clinics”

  1. Sullivan July 16, 2009 at 16:57 #

    As one of my friends likes to say (I’m paraphrasing here), “Medical fraud is a multibillion dollar business and the bad guys know about autism”.

    It looks like Care Clinics may very well be one of the “bad guys”.

    The Autism-Watch website on Care Clinics notes that new patients have a $500 new patient fee and $8,500 in testing. Sounds like a lot to me, but that is just for private-pay patients. It looks like at least one family had their insurance charged $49,000 for the child and $41,000 for the parent (it is unclear whether the parent was even tested).

  2. Clay July 16, 2009 at 18:23 #

    An excerpt from the latest comment there:

    “Why do so many people who don’t understand or live through what we live through on a daily basis act so quickly to disparage what we are doing? I don’t want to get into the politics of autism treatment, because there is a GREAT deal of it going on, but what I do want to get across is that our kids were beginning their healing process with the treatments that CC offered and I found most of the staff very caring and competent. Please keep the negativity to a minimum. Our lives are difficult enough, aren’t they?

    Oh, boo-hoo, martyr mom. Go find another quack.

  3. Sullivan July 16, 2009 at 18:31 #

    Since Quackwatch.com discussed Care Clinics in the past, I contacted Stephen Barrett, M.D. of Quackwatch for a comment on this case. Here is what he has to say:

    I am pleased to see that the government is investigating CARE Clinics. I am particularly concerned about the fact that parents are told their children are suffering from heavy metal toxicity when they are not. This is done through primarily through the urine toxic metals test, which is a fraud. I have investigated this test thoroughly and reported my findings at http://www.quackwatch.org/t I hope that people who realize they have been misled will contact me to find out what they can do about that.

    I will add, it is very difficult for someone to come forward when they have been duped. This is especially so in the cases where a parent has been duped in trying to help his/her child. The person who came forward was very brave. I would hope there are no more people who have been duped (by Care Clinics or other practitioners), but that seems very unlikely.

  4. Sullivan July 16, 2009 at 18:33 #

    Clay,

    that comment is more than offset by this one:

    As a former employee of CARE Clinic, I can attest to the fact that Kazuko Curtin is a morally corrupt individual. She became rich by manipulating her employee’s and, more importantly, families of autistic children. There will be a special place for her in hell.

    http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/health/entries/2009/07/15/autism_clinic_raided_by_federa.html#comment-295998703

    Edited to add:
    This person even gave a name (but is still uncorroborated)

    As a former employee of Kazuko, I would be more than happy to testify to her being a morally corrupt individual who preys on individuals who are seeking care for their children. She needs to be locked up and the key thrown away. All I can say is, it’s about time!!! May she rot in hell where she belongs!

    If true, it would look like the head of Care Clinics will have a tough time in court.

  5. Clay July 16, 2009 at 20:06 #

    Message from Michael Moore.

    “Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ on T.V. Tonight

    Thursday, July 16th, 2009

    The Movie Channel, this evening, will be airing the Oscar-nominated documentary, “Sicko,” Michael Moore’s film about a villain known as the health insurance industry. With the debate raging in Washington, D.C. — Republicans trying to scuttle it, the President trying to hang on to his public option, and nearly a hundred members of Congress pushing for a single-payer system — showing “Sicko” tonight is very timely. Mike lays out all the facts and the arguments as to why the private insurance companies are never going to side with what’s best for the American people.

    “Sicko” airs on The Movie Channel tonight at 8:00 PM. It’s also scheduled to air on The Movie Channel on July 27th at 4:05 PM and on TMC Xtra on August 2nd at 10:45 PM and August 5th at 2:15 AM and 7:30 AM. Click here for showtimes.

    There are people around the country who are holding “Sicko” viewing parties this weekend in their homes. Check out this call to revisit “Sicko” on the Daily Kos this week.

    We are in a critical time regarding which direction the health care debate is going to go. Make your voice heard. And be armed with the facts. Watch “Sicko” again!”

    Goodie! I haven’t seen it yet.

  6. ebohlman July 16, 2009 at 21:59 #

    When the IRS gets involved in a raid on a small business, it usually means that the business was (as required by law) withholding income tax and Social Security tax from employees’ paychecks, but not (as required by law) forwarding those funds to the IRS. In other words, it usually means the owners were playing fast and loose with other people’s money entrusted to them. Not a good sign.

    • Sullivan July 16, 2009 at 22:07 #

      So, potentially dishonest with insurance companies and potentially dishonest with employees and potentially dishonest with the Federal government? Are we supposed to assume that they were completely honest with their clients?

  7. MJ July 16, 2009 at 23:06 #

    I may just be confused but I don’t see the relation between alternative treatments for autism and being raided by the FBI and IRS.

    Are you seriously trying to say that the reason that they were shut down by the IRS was because of their medical practices because I don’t think that happens.

    Or are you trying to say that the FBI raided them because they used chelation? That isn’t likely to happen either unless they are causing serious harm and killing people – which doesn’t seem to be the case either.

    Or are you trying to imply that everyone who provides alternative treatments for autism are going to commit insurance fraud and not pay their taxes? I don’t think there is enough evidence to say that either – insurance fraud is a common enough problem among all types of health care providers not just alternative ones.

    So what is it exactly that you are trying to say?

    • Sullivan July 17, 2009 at 00:25 #

      I won’t speak for Anthony, but–

      It is not implied anywhere that all alt-med clinics are guilty of insurance fraud and/or tax fraud. Nor that they were raided because they were using alternative (and, let’s face it, unsound) treatments. Unfortunately, people can perform chelation in the United States, claiming it is a treatment for autism, and no one can say no.

      But, apparantly they were cheating their employees. Apparantly they were cheating the government. They were charging very large fees for testing ($8,500). Assuming all this is true, I would not be at all surprised to find out that they were not completely honest with their clients–either in how much they were charging for services, or for calling for extra services, or for calling for services that are not called for.

      My guess is that they were using “challenge” chelation tests. If so, that is just plain dishonest. It is about time someone got sued for that–maybe this is the time.

      Let’s face it, they are doing IV chelation as a “treatment” for autism. That is charging people money for a therapy that has no bearing in science or medicine, exposing children to potential harmful side effects, and charging parents and/or insurance for the privilege. Illegal? Maybe not. Dishonest? Yes.

  8. Sullivan July 17, 2009 at 00:38 #

    Here is a quote from their website:

    “The CARE Clinics team takes special care to measure heavy metals in the blood, urine, hair and stool. As nearly all of the children have heavy metal toxicity, we utilize gentle but effective treatments to detoxify these metals from the children and follow your child’s progress with these tests.”

    How do they find that “nearly all of the children” have heavy metal toxicity, when good scientists and actual medical toxicologists don’t find this to be the case at all?

  9. Jake July 17, 2009 at 08:21 #

    “But, apparantly they were cheating their employees. Apparantly they were cheating the government.”

    The IRS seizing records does not amount to guilt. No charges are currently filed and if they are the presumption in the United States of America is that one is INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY in a court of law.

    • Sullivan July 17, 2009 at 15:39 #

      Jake,

      hence the word “apparantly”.

      Criminal charges are not filed. Civil charges have been.

      There are many people who are legally innocent that I would avoid in business and medicine. I didn’t need to have the IRS and FBI raid this clinic to realize it is one I would avoid. My kid isn’t being hooked up to an IV in order to cure false “heavy metal poisoning”.

  10. Clay July 17, 2009 at 22:56 #

    Ah well, according to Jake, his mum had fillings, which totally screwed up his life! This is the whole reason why he “just can’t think right”, according to Best. Pitiful, ain’t it?

  11. Terry Stottle (Ari's brother) July 19, 2009 at 15:25 #

    Sullivan asks:

    “How do they find that “nearly all of the children” have heavy metal toxicity, when good scientists and actual medical toxicologists don’t find this to be the case at all?”

    How do Arthur Krigsman and Andrew Wakefield find that “nearly all the children” have bowel inflammation?

    These folk will one day drown in an ocean of lawsuits.

  12. Unable September 15, 2009 at 20:07 #

    Upon doing a search for Kazuko’s name I was surprised to find my words quoted on this website. I am said former employee. The FBI and IRS raided the clinic because of insurance fraud and tax evasion. She had arrangements with labs to pay a fixed fee for lab testing, then charged the insurance companies 10x that amount. She justified it by saying she was helping children but it is hard to believe when you saw the amount of shopping she did. Everyone was pressured to receive testing (parents, other children, employees) because that was where she made her money.
    It is unfortunate that so many people out there see how to make a quick buck and take advantage of people wanting to do ANYTHING to help their child.

  13. Joseph September 15, 2009 at 20:58 #

    Al Capone was indicted for income tax evasion.

    One would hope they got the CARE clinics for medical fraud, but that’s probably too much to ask for.

  14. Sullivan September 16, 2009 at 01:54 #

    Unable,

    that is very interesting information.

    You are welcome to contact me (sullivansjourney@gmail.com) if you have any more information to share.

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