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CleanSlate to pay $4.5 million to settle allegations it charged MassHealth for unnecessary drug tests

A substance abuse treatment company has agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle allegations in federal court that it wrongly charged MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, millions of dollars for unnecessary urine tests, officials said.

Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Massachusetts in October 2020 alleging that CleanState, which operates several opioid treatment centers in Massachusetts and across the country, broke the law by requiring some patients to submit medically unnecessary urine drug test.

The suit alleged that CleanSlate also directed clinicians to refer drug tests to a company-owned lab in Holyoke, a violation of state and federal laws banning self-dealing, according to a statement from Healey’s office.

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“As we face a worsening opioid crisis in Massachusetts, it’s important that treatment centers follow the rules and not cut corners to increase their bottom line,” Healey said in the statement. “Our resolution with CleanSlate will bring millions of dollars back to the state and implement the oversight needed to protect patients and prevent these violations from happening again.”

The lawsuit, which stemmed from a complaint by a whistleblower, alleged that the company’s illegal practices were established by its founder and former owner, Dr. Amanda Wilson. Wilson’s lawyer did not return a message seeking comment on Saturday.

CleanState CEO Greg Marotta denied the allegations in a statement following the settlement. He said the company has acted ethically and is focused on moving forward “to help more Americans reclaim their lives.”

“We continue to reject the allegations brought by the government,” Marotta said in the statement. “We have chosen to settle this case due to the severe economic impact a prolonged legal battle would have had on the thousands of individuals and families we serve. We have also reached an agreement in principle to settle all claims brought by a former employee which will end all litigation against the company related to these matters and will include no admission of wrongdoing or liability.”

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Marotta said CleanSlate has served nearly 40,000 Massachusetts residents and will “continue to work relentlessly with the Commonwealth to provide access to mental health and addiction treatment.”

CleanSlate and Wilson will pay a total of $3.2 million to MassHealth, and the company will begin an independent compliance program that will include annual audits, Healey’s office said. CleanSlate and Wilson will also pay $1.3 million to settle claims involving Medicare members in Massachusetts, Healey’s office said.



Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.