- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2006

The federal government is investigating the billing practices of a Hyattsville pain doctor who has submitted Medicare claims of more than $20 million since 2002.

The FBI last month filed affidavits in federal court in the District to seize bank accounts and a 2005 Porsche belonging to Dr. Martin R. McLaren, who runs the Pain Management Center.

Many of Dr. McLaren’s claims were rejected, but his practice — whose main office is on New Hampshire Avenue about a block outside the District — has received more than $3 million from Medicare since 2002, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Among the Medicare records that investigators have reviewed are claims indicating that patients had received services from Dr. McLaren in person on dates when authorities think he was in Barbados.

In addition, investigators are looking into the overall finances of the medical practice, including payments to Dr. McLaren’s wife, who earned about $820,000 in 2004, according to federal affidavits.

Last month, Dr. McLaren told an investigator that his wife provided dictation at his medical practice, according to documents filed by federal authorities.

A licensed anesthesiologist, Dr. McLaren has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

His attorney, Kirby D. Behre, yesterday said Dr. McLaren may challenge the seizure. He said he intends to learn more about the investigation during the next few weeks, when he plans to meet with government attorneys.

“Just because it’s alleged doesn’t mean it’s true,” Mr. Behre said.

Mr. Behre said the matter could be handled in civil court “if, in fact, there were billing errors.”

Mr. Behre said federal investigators seized many of Dr. McLaren’s records, so he has not had an opportunity to review them to respond to specific findings outlined in probable cause affidavits.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment other than to confirm an ongoing investigation.

According to those documents, investigators began looking into Dr. McLaren’s billing after a routine claims analysis by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The analysis raised questions about Dr. McLaren’s claims for use of an anti-inflammatory drug called Toradol.

Investigators also have scrutinized records in a health insurance dispute between Dr. McLaren and Aetna Inc.

Dr. McLaren turned over to Aetna health records that showed various patients with identical vital signs, including blood pressure and pulse, according to an FBI affidavit.

Citing “statistically almost impossible” odds, the affidavit says patient files may have been altered as a result of Aetna’s investigation.

During a search of Dr. McLaren’s Bethesda home last month, the FBI found stacks of cash, each containing about $25,000, and several blank prescription pads in the names of his employees, according to the affidavit.

Dr. McLaren told investigators that the money came from patient co-payments and that he had written prescriptions for employees for medical reasons, according to court records.

According to public records, Dr. McLaren completed graduate medical school at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica in 1968. He completed an internship at Princess Margaret Hospital in the Bahamas in 1970 and served as an assistant professor at Howard University’s College of Medicine from 1973 to 1982.

According to the Maryland Board of Physicians, Dr. McLaren has no known disciplinary actions during the past decade.

Employees at Dr. McLaren’s New Hampshire Avenue medical practice yesterday said he was continuing to treat patients, but was working at another office yesterday.

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