A well-known Charleston doctor who settled federal health care fraud charges in 2015 and then filed for bankruptcy opened a new medical office in North Charleston this week.
Dr. Barron Nason said it wasn't difficult finding a lender to finance his new venture, called Nason Care, on Northwoods Boulevard.
"I thought I would have to do a lot of explaining," Nason said. "When I sat down with my primary lender, he’d done his research."
Nason Care opened Tuesday. It offers primary care, urgent care and employee care.
"It’s very different opening a brand-new practice from scratch, than opening a fifth location with 175 employees," Nason said.
For a decade, Dr. Nason was the face of the largest urgent care network in the Lowcountry. And then he seemed to disappear.
All five of the urgent care centers that bore his name closed with little warning. The billboards came down. The commercials (“Don’t wait on health care. Let health care wait on you.”) were pulled from the air, too. Patients who had relied on Nason and his team for years were left with no access to their medical records.
In 2015, the reason behind those closures became clear. The federal government ordered Nason and his business partners to pay more than $1 million to settle allegations that they committed health care fraud under the False Claims Act.
Among the allegations, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Nason Medical Centers had billed Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE for services provided by physicians, even though treatment had been delivered by physician assistants.
The owners were also accused of billing the government for tests that weren’t medically necessary, including potentially harmful CT scans. Nason and his colleagues admitted no intentional wrongdoing.
At the time, former U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles called the case "particularly egregious because it involves allegations of profiting by exposing patients to unnecessary radiation in the CT scans.”
Nason, a trained emergency room physician, has spent the past few years working as a temporary emergency room doctor at hospitals across the country.
He is the sole doctor at the new office. The business also employs one nurse practitioner and two physician assistants, he said. They offer X-rays and CT scans.
The new practice "was founded on honesty, fairness and integrity," the Nason Care website explains. "Our leaders are not only capable and qualiﬁed, but fair and ethical."
At this point, Nason said, there are no plans to expand beyond the one office, which is located in the building formerly occupied by Roper St. Francis Northwoods. The site frequently floods.
A hat tip to his old practice, Nason Care offers patients popcorn in the waiting room.
"There are expectations that I’m going to give great service and great medical care," he said. "I’m going to take it one facility at a time."