Insurance Fraud Probed With Romney's Fundraiser Cited by Victims

Published: 2011-11-10 12:22:34
Author: David Armstrong

 After a Jeep crashed into her Geo Metro in Clearwater, Florida, in 2009, Kathleen Weston's back and neck hurt. So she called 1-800-ASK-GARY, a medical-referral service advertised on local television.

Weston was directed to Physician's Group, a chain of clinics founded by Gary Kompothecras, a chiropractor who has grown wealthy and gained prominence in Florida catering to car- accident victims. Earlier this month, capping years of political activity, Kompothecras was named a co-chair of presidential contender Mitt Romney's Florida finance team.

Weston was billed an average of $385 for each of 41 visits to a Kompothecras clinic -- usually including a chiropractic adjustment, electrical stimulation and ultrasound treatment. The total tab after four months: $23,081.74. That included $4,109 for three MRI scans and $120 for a take-home stimulator, known as a TENS device, that retails at Sears for $37.99.

"I said you have to be kidding me," said Weston, who hired a lawyer and recently had the charges reduced by about half. "My neck was hurting. I was still having spasms."

The cost of treating pain in the U.S. has tripled in the last decade to as much as $300 billion, or one in every nine health care dollars. The growth has been stoked by medical entrepreneurs across the country, who have started for-profit clinics providing back surgery, steroid injections, prescription narcotics, massage, electrical implants and more.