Nason opening new Charleston practice, addresses missing medical records, fraud case
Nason Medical Centers once served nearly 600,000 patients at five locations across the Charleston area. In 2015, all five practices closed amid legal and financial troubles for its namesake doctor.
Now almost four years later, Dr. Barron Nason says “It’s time for me to tell my side of the story.” In an exclusive interview with ABC News 4, Nason broke his silence in January.
Once a prominent Lowcountry face in television commercials for his practices, Nason disappeared from the public eye after the troubles of 2014 and 2015.
We started searching for Dr. Nason in January after Kim Genova contacted us for help getting her son's medical records. Former patients have complained for years of trouble retrieving medical records from former Nason facilities.
We found Dr. Nason right here in Charleston County. Right away, Dr. Nason dropped a bombshell.
“I am preparing to open a new medical practice in Charleston,” says Dr. Nason.
But will patients trust him again?
“I believe patients in the community believe me, and know what happened," Nason said. "I was the one who was duped."
Dr. Nason was the doctor in charge of Nason Medical Centers across the Lowcountry. But Nason said he was not the overseer of the finances.
“Everyone on the medical side came under my responsibility, and everyone on the business side his responsibility," Nason said of business partner Bob Hamilton.
“I thought we were doing a great job from all the reports we’re getting from insurance companies,” Nason said.
But The U.S. Attorney's Office found fraud.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice accused Nason and Hamilton of billing Medicare and Medicaid for medically unnecessary tests, falsely claiming patients received more expensive versions of drugs, passing off physician's assistants as true doctors, and employing an unlicensed radiology technician.
Both Nason and Hamilton were fined over a million dollars as part of a settlement with the DOJ.
“We did pay for the over-billing. (The DOJ) said whether it is intentional or unintentional, it did not matter. You billed inappropriately, and it has to be paid, and it has to be paid with a fine. I am fine with that," Nason said
Dr. Nason never faced criminal charges and never lost his medical license. The S.C. Dept. of Labor, Licensing and Regulation took no disciplinary action against Nason, and considers him in "good standing."
However, many former patients of Nason Medical Centers say they've continued having trouble accessing medical records after the Nason practices closed in 2015.
Nason says the medical records — thousands of them — are on a server stored in a warehouse in North Charleston. And he has no access to them.
“I have no control today. Only Bob Hamilton can release those medical records, and he is nowhere to be found," Nason said.
Dorchester County property records show Bob Hamilton sold his Summerville house in 2016. A background check on Hamilton yielded several phone numbers for Hamilton and his known associates. When we called, most of those numbers turned out to be disconnected, or had been reassigned.
We tracked down one of Bob Hamilton’s former attorneys in Georgia, who said he would email Hamilton for us. Hamilton never got in touch with us, even after contacting his office directly.
The U.S. Office of the Inspector General tells us it’s not investigating the location of the medical records, but says anyone who'd like to file a complaint can call 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477)
Kim Genova still has not gotten her son’s records and we’re still working on that.
As for Dr. Nason, he is preparing to open back up.
“Nason Care is the name. It has no affiliation with Nason Medical Center," says Nason.
There is no official opening date, but Nason Care could open by year’s end.
Nason says, "With my new practice, I will always outsource that billing so there can never be any accusation that we potentially manipulated billing."