Supporters of a beloved rural West Tennessee doctor they say is falsely accused of Medicare fraud are frustrated with the lack of response they are getting from U.S. Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN-8), whom they have turned to for help.
Dr. Bryan Merrick of the McKenzie Medical Center lost his Medicare reimbursement privileges in April for three years over $670 in billing errors. Only 30 billings for 10 patients, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of 30,000 claims submitted, were identified as being incorrect in a review by the federal government. Merrick, who has been practicing for more than three decades, has maintained they were clerical errors.
Jill Mayo, a registered nurse and the practice manager at McKenzie Medical Center, told The Tennessee Star on Friday that the practice reached out to Rep. Kustoff’s office in May. While his office has said Kustoff has been looking into the matter, he has not offered Merrick any concrete help or insight, according to Mayo.
“Nothing has changed,” Mayo said.
Kustoff’s office released a statement to The Star late Friday saying, “Congressman Kustoff is aware of Dr. Merrick’s situation, and our office has been in contact with CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] regarding the case since June. The Congressman is disappointed that government overreach continues to prevent cases like this from being resolved in a timely manner. Congressman Kustoff and our office will continue to assist Dr. Merrick as much as possible within our legal and ethical boundaries.”
Mayo said she and others don’t understand what legal and ethical boundaries could be blocking Kustoff from becoming more involved.
Merrick’s supporters have also reached out to U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN). A change.org petition is circulating that is addressed to Kustoff, Alexander and Corker, and also President Trump. Nearly 2,000 people had signed the petition by late Friday on behalf of Merrick. The petition says that losing his Medicare billing privileges “will impact the community, his patients, the local hospital, his practice, and his family.”
News of Merrick’s case has been covered in media outlets across Tennessee in recent days and also has been picked up by national health care media sources. His case will be discussed Monday morning at 9 a.m. Central Time on Monitor Mondays, an internet radio broadcast by RACmonitor, an online news source for health care providers on topics related to third party and government auditors.
Roy Herron, a former Democratic state senator and attorney from West Tennessee, will be a special guest on the broadcast to speak in support of Merrick. Herron told The Star that Merrick’s case is “the worst big government abuse of an individual I’ve seen.”
Merrick appealed the decision by CMS but his appeal was denied in August. He next plans to go before an administrative law judge.