Category Archives: Healthcare

Houston companies reduce salaries for senior executives

In recent days, a few public companies in the Houston have announced salary reductions for senior executives as they battle with the economic downturn. The changes are temporary though most haven’t set a timetable for when they will be restored. A summary of the changes announced for the CEO and CFO officers is set out in the table below.

A shout-out to Cactus, an oilfield services company, who were the first to announce changes.

A couple of other comments

Occidental : All Executives had their salaries capped at $250,000. Furthermore, it appears that Oxy cut the salaries of all US employees making over $76,000 by 30%. It appears those making less got cut by 20%. Legacy Anadarko employees appear to have only got cut 4.9% to avoid breaching contracts in last year’s disastrous merger. That’s really going to help mesh the company cultures!

Group 1 Automotive : 3,000 US employees are furloughed for a 30-day period, with an option for a second 30-day period. 2,800 UK employees are furloughed for an initial period of 21 days. That’s about 40% of their workforce.

SEC filing – Group 1 Automotive

https://www.thelayoff.com/occidental-petroleum

 

CompanyPositionNameOld salary $000New salary $000% reduction
CactusCEOScott Bender30015050%
CactusCFOStephen Tadlock33526820%
Group 1 AutomotiveCEOEarl Hesterberg1,15057550%
Group 1 AutomotiveCFOJohn Rickel63050420%
Luby'sCFOScott Gray34217150%
Nabors IndustriesCEOTony Petrello1,7501,40020%
Nabors IndustriesCFOWilliam Restrepo65052020%
Occidental PetroleumCEOVicki Hollub1,25025080%
Occidental PetroleumCFOCedric Burgher72525066%
Superior Energy ServicesCEODavid Dunlap85068020%
Superior Energy ServicesCFOWesty Ballard44037415%
US Physical TherapyCEOChris Reading80048040%
US Physical TherapyCFOLarry McAfee51033235%

Woodlands Physician group pays $1.2 million to resolve false billing claims

Millennium Physicians Association has paid the US $1,248,964 to resolve claims that they falsely billed the Medicare program for sleep studies.

Millennium is based in The Woodlands and owns and operates two sleep centers in the Houston area doing business as Millennium Respiratory & Sleep Disorder Specialists.

The investigation began following the Jan. 4, 2018, filing of a whistleblower lawsuit. Millennium employed the whistleblower who alleged the company conducted sleep studies without the presence of properly credentialed technicians.

Medicare rules and guidelines require that properly-trained and certified sleep technicians administer sleep studies. However, the investigation revealed that from Jan. 8, 2015, through March 13, 2019, Millennium improperly billed and received payment for sleep tests when they did not have the required personnel present.

Medicare rules and guidelines also require facilities to be accredited or certified by the America Academy of Sleep Medicine, Joint Commission or Accreditation Commission for Health Care Inc. Millennium self-reported that from 2011 through 2019, two of its sleep test facilities did not have such accreditation or certification.

The whistleblower will receive $187,000 as a result of the settlement.

The settlement resolved the claims without a determination of liability.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/physicians-group-pays-over-1m-resolve-false-billing-claims

Houston Pharmacist guilty of $21 million fraud

George Tompkins, 75, of Houston, has been found guilty of charges related to health care fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. After a six-day trial, the jury took less than two hours to convict him of all charges (14 counts in all).



Tompkins owned Piney Point Pharmacy on Fondren Road in west Houston. According to evidence presented a trial, Tompkins billed the Federal Employees’ Compensation (FECA) program approximately $21.8 million for medically unnecessary compound gels and creams that were predicated on illegal kickback payments, which were disguised as legitimate marketing expenses.

The scheme began around September 2009 and continued through approximately September 2016. Of the $21.8 million billed, the Department of Labor paid out $11.7 million.  Tompkins referred to himself as the “Compound King”.

His wife, Marlene, was the Secretary and Treasurer of the business. She pleaded guilty in January 2020 and is awaiting sentencing. Anoop Chaturvedi, a legal permanent resident from India, was also charged. He is a fugitive and there is a warrant for his arrest.

Sentencing for Tompkins is set for May 27. He faces up to 20 years for the money laundering charges and 10 years for the other counts.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/compound-king-convicted-21-million-health-care-fraud-scheme

 

Health services company begins search for new CFO

Larry McAfee, CFO of US Physical Therapy, has announced he will retire in October 2020. He turns 65 later this month. Mr McAfee has been CFO since joining the company in 2003. He also joined the board the following year.



The company is based in the Medical Center and has a market capitalization of $1.5 billion. The company operates 574 physical therapy clinics in 41 states. It also manages 26 physical therapy facilities for third parties (primarily hospitals) as well as having an industrial injury prevention business.

The company has started a formal search for a new CFO and expect to have a new person in place by the summer. Mr McAfee has a base salary of $500,000.

SEC filing – US Physical Therapy CFO retirement

Houston biotech company appoints new CFO

CNS Pharmaceuticals, which just went public last week, has officially appointed Christopher Downs as its new CFO.



Mr Downs joins from Innovative Aftermarket Systems LP, a privately held provider of finance and insurance solutions where he was VP of Finance and Treasurer. Prior to that he spent 7 years at InfuSystem Holdings Inc, a provider of infusion systems to oncologists in the US. He is a West Point graduate and has an MBA from Columbia Business School.

CNS doesn’t have any revenues yet and is developing anticancer drugs for the treatment of brain tumors. Based on preclinical data and positive results of the Phase I clinical studies conducted at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the company believes its lead drug candidate, Berubicin, could significantly help in the treatment of glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer that is considered incurable.

The company raised $8.5 million (net of fees) by selling 2.1 million shares at $4, at the low end of its range of $4-$5. Mr Downs agreed to join in September, conditional on the Initial Public Offering being completed.

Mr Downs will receive a base salary of $300,000. He was also granted a 10-year option to purchase 30,000 shares at an exercise price equal to the public offering price per share of the shares sold in the IPO. Mr Downs, who has lived in Houston previously, but currently lives in Utah, will also receive a one-time relocation bonus of $15,000.

Mr Downs replaces Matt Lourie who was the part-time fractional CFO prior to going public.

SEC filing – CNS Pharmaceuticals – CFO

Houston biotech company completes IPO

CNS Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company, has completed its initial public offering. It has its head office in the Galleria area. The company raised $9 million by selling 2.1 million shares at $4, at the low end of its range of $4-$5.

The company is listed on the Nasdaq with a ticker symbol ‘CNSP’ and has a market capitalization of $67 million.



CNS doesn’t have any revenues yet and is developing anticancer drugs for the treatment of brain tumors. Based on preclinical data and positive results of the Phase I clinical studies conducted at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the company believes its lead drug candidate, Berubicin, could significantly help in the treatment of glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer that is considered incurable.

Berubicin was discovered at MD Anderson by Dr Waldemar Priebe, the founder of the company. Dr Priebe initially licensed the drug to Reata Pharmaceuticals. However they allowed their investigative drug application with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lapse for strategic reasons.

The money, along with a $5.8 million grant given to a sub-licensee, partially owned by Dr Preibe, will be used to commence the Phase 2 trials of Berubicin.  However the company will need to raise a further $7 million to complete the trials.

CNS becomes the fifth Houston-area IPO this year, following Sunnova and Castle Biosciences in July, Landcadia Holdings II, and Soliton.

You can see the complete list of Houston-area public companies on my blog here.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cns-pharmaceuticals-announces-pricing-of-initial-public-offering-300954480.html

 

 

 

80-year-old man convicted in $19 million medicare fraud

Bobby Rouse Sr, an 80-year-old former Houston man, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay and receive kickbacks and money laundering related to the Medicare program.



Mr Rouse becomes the 14th and final person convicted in relation to the scheme. Rouse and three others were part of the executive team for Continuum Healthcare LLC. They owned the Westbury Community Hospital (now closed) in Houston. The company also owned mental health centers in Hornwood, Baytown and Missouri City.

Each location operated a partial hospitalization program (PHP), a short-term intensive treatment program but without 24-hour daily care. Numerous people were referred to treatment in exchange for payment. However the vast majority did not qualify for PHP services because they were not experiencing an acute psychotic episode or were actually suffering from dememtia or Alzheimer’s.

Six of the defendants owned personal care homes while four were marketers for Continuum. Each admitting payments to refer the patients, receiving amounts ranging from $130,000 to $2.6 million each.

In all, Continuum billed Medicare approximately $189 million for fraudulent PHP claims and Medicare paid $66 million on these claims. Mr Rouse admitted to causing Medicare to pay $18.8 million based on false and fraudulent claims. For Mr Rouse, the scheme ran from March 2005 through May 2012.

Mr Rouse will be sentenced in January 2020. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Ten of the defendants were originally indicted in 2014 though Mr Rouse was not charged until 2017. This followed an investigation by the Houston Chronicle back in 2011.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/final-defendant-convicted-189-million-health-care-fraud-scam

Two nurses charged in $2.1 million medicare fraud

Another week, another Medicare fraud indictment in Houston. Joseph Nwankwo of Houston and Stacey Ajaja of Richmond have been arrested. They appeared in court in the Southern District of Texas last Friday.



According to the indictment, Mr Nwankwo and Ms Ajaja owned Hefty Healthcare Services from 2009 through 2017. The company was based off the Westpark Tollway in Mission Bend. From July 2013 through November 2016, the company billed Medicare $1.6 million for home health services that were never provided and not medically necessary. The pair obtained patient referrals by paying marketers and patients. They bribed physicians to authorize medically unnecessary home health services. Medicare paid out $2.1 million on these claims.

Nwankwo and Ajaja are both charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, five counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks.

If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison for the fraud charge and up to 5 years for the kickback charge. They also face fines of $250,000 and $25,000 for the charges.

Earlier this month, a Houston doctor was convicted in a $16 million fraud scheme.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/two-nurses-charged-health-care-fraud-and-illegal-kickback-scheme

 

Houston doctor convicted in $16 million medicare fraud scheme

Yolanda Hamilton, M.D., has been found guilty of participating in a $16 million Medicare fraud scheme. After a six-day trial, she was convicted of

  • one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud,
  • one count of conspiracy to solicit and receive health care kickbacks and,
  • two counts of false statements relating to health care matters.



Dr Hamilton was the owner and operator of HMS Health and Wellness Center, based in SW Houston. Between January 2012 and August 2016, Hamilton signed false and fraudulent plans of care and other medical documents to make it appear that patients of Hamilton and her co-conspirators qualified and received home-health services under Medicare. In fact, Hamilton paid patients to sign up and charged home-health agencies an illegal kickback in the form of a $60 patient ‘fee’ for certifying patients for home-health services.

The scheme resulted in approximately $16 million in false and fraudulent claims.

Hamilton will be sentenced at a later date.

This is not the first time Dr Hamilton has been in trouble. Back in August 2013, the Texas Medical Board and Hamilton entered into an Agreed Order requiring Dr Hamilton to refrain from treating chronic pain patients. Another physician was also required to monitor her practice. The Board found that Dr Hamilton failed to maintain adequate medical records. In addition, in some instances, she lacked full justification for the continued prescriptions of opiates and muscle relaxers.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/texas-physician-convicted-16-million-medicare-fraud-scheme

Biotechnology company hires interim CFO

Salarius Pharmaceuticals has hired Mark Rosenblum as Interim CFO. He replaces Scott Jordan, who has been appointed Chief Business Officer.

Salarius is based in the Medical Center. The primary drug in its pipeline is one that treats Ewing sarcoma, a bone cancer that affects children and young adults. The company moved from Salt Lake City in 2016 after receiving a $19 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.  The company went public in July 2019 via a reverse takeover.



According to LinkedIn Mr Jordan is based in Chicago while Mr Rosenblum is based in Dallas. Mr Rosenblum has been working as a consultant to Salarius since February 2019. He has previously served as CFO of another biotech company, Advaxis.

Although he is described as the Interim CFO, Mr Rosenblum has converted from a consultant to an employee. He will be paid $265,000. He will also get a guaranteed bonus of $19,300 for 2019 and $14,500 for Q1 2020.

SEC filing – Salarius Rosenblum