CIGNA Attacks Chelation Fraud

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

The CIGNA HealthCare Medicare Administration, which processes Medicare claims for Idaho, North Carolina, and Tennessee, has concluded that many claim submissions for chelation therapy have been inappropriate. This conclusion was documented by a study of 40 claims which found that in many cases, "heavy metal toxicity" was inappropriately diagnosed and no need for chelation with edetate calcium disodium was documented. This finding is not surprising because many chelation therapists tell patients they are toxic when they are not. On November 24, 2004—to guide providers and claims reviewers—the company published a "Progressive Correction Action Review" that inlcuded the following points.

In an independent but parallel development, the Connecticut Department of Public Health has secured a consent agreement barring several of the dubious practices reflected in the CIGNA document. In 2003, Robban Sica, M.D., who practices in Orange, Connecticut, was charged with with improperly using chelation therapy to treat cardiovascular disease, failing to obtain adequate consent for such treatment, and failing to properly manage patients patients whom she said were suffering from heavy metal toxicity. The case was settled with a consent agreement that she will: (a) serve a year of probation, (b) stop using DMPS as a chelating agent, (c) stop using a provoked test to diagnose heavy metal toxicity, and (d) use a patient consent form which states that chelation therapy has not been scientifically substantiated.

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This article was revised on February 23, 2005.

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