From about 2013 to 2016, outgoing House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) worked as a “consultant” for an Alabama-based medical testing company called QBR LLC, which was recently targeted by the US Department of Justice.
John Hornbuckle, president and CEO of QBR LLC in Huntsville, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of defrauding health care programs and paying and receiving kickbacks between December 2012 and January 2018, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court. Northern District of Alabama in April 2022.
After initially pleading not guilty, Hornbuckle He pleaded guilty to one count on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay in November. According to court records, QBR was in the business of electro-diagnostic testing, including nerve conduction velocity tests (NCV tests) and sensory evoked potential tests (SEP tests).
many others Associates with the company were either convicted or pleaded guilty to health-related charges in 2022. All of them are currently awaiting sentencing.
McCutcheon and his son, Christopher McCutcheon, and their various roles in the company have been thrust into the public eye as Justice Department press releases have focused on the indictments and guilty pleas.
According to financial documents obtained by 1819 News, Mac McCutcheon and his Practical Approach Consulting Group were paid at least $90,000 by QBR LLC in 2013, the second half of 2015 and the first half of 2016.
A 2012 draft organizational chart, around the time the company launched, described Mac McCutcheon’s role at QBR as “government liaison, business and public relations.” Other documents described his role as “customer relations manager”.
According to Alabama Secretary of State records, Practical Approach Consulting was incorporated in December 2014. Christopher McCutcheon, Mack’s son and former 49% owner of QBR, is listed as the original registered agent. Mac McCutcheon is listed as president, secretary and treasurer.
According to the documents, payments to McCutcheon and his consulting group ranged from $2,500 to $5,000 a month.
Mac McCutcheon was first elected to the House in 2006. Before becoming speaker, McCutcheon served as chairman of the House Rules Committee. He has served as speaker of the Alabama House since 2016, after his predecessor, former House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), was ousted amid serious ethics allegations. McCutcheon did not seek re-election in 2022.
“I have gone back through my records to get the information/dates you are asking about,” Mac McCutcheon told 1819 News in an emailed response to questions about his involvement with the company. “My association with QBR was based on helping start a company. I was contracted to do consulting work to start a business. I retired from the City of Huntsville in 2013 and started my own consulting business as a source of income. The fact that legislative work is part-time. I have never lobbied for QBR for or any other client. Once QBR was launched as a company, I ceased my services.”
According to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, QBR LLC was founded in September 2011 by Hornbuckle and Christopher McCutcheon.
According to emails obtained by 1819 News, the McCutcheons have not been indicted or charged with any crimes by federal authorities, but have used their influence and influence to help overcome regulatory and legal hurdles the company has faced at the state level.
Chris McCutcheon emailed Mac McCutcheon and Hornbuckle in January 2012 informing Mac that “we, as representatives of QBR, are submitting this Services Agreement for review and input from the State Attorney General’s Office.”
“We want to get an assessment from the AG’s office to make sure that we [are] works within the guidelines specified by the medical industry as well as the state of Alabama,” Chris told Mac in an email. “Please forward this agreement to state staff and advise when it is completed so we can move forward with the current agreement or make any necessary changes.”
The service agreement outlines a process in which providers are paid $200 an hour, which “shall not vary based on referral volume or value.”
According to Hornbuckle’s indictment, hourly rates for provider time and provider staff time were “disguised” and “the provider was actually compensated on a per-patient basis.”
Chris McCutcheon wrote to Mac McCutcheon two months later in March to request a meeting for a business partner with a senior Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama official.
“Thank you for spending time with us last week, offering us a tour and helping us meet [the] Director of Medical Licensing, Chris McCutcheon said in a March 2012 letter to Mac McCutcheon and John Hornbuckle. “We would like to request a meeting for Brian Bowman, our business partner in Birmingham, with Robin at BCBS. You and John [Hornbuckle] Should remain in the driver’s seat in terms of meeting coordination and attendance if possible. We as QBR want to stay in a position of power with the meetings you help us set up because it helps us in the future from a political perspective. Brian has the following agenda in mind for the meeting with Robin / BCBS: He wants to become the preferred provider for Alabama BCBS in the lab. [Bloodwork/Urine Panels] space.”
Brian Bowman of Attalla, an entrepreneur who supplied QBR electro-diagnostic testing to medical providers through Compass Labs, which he partially owned, pleaded guilty in December 2021 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud after initially pleading not guilty to several counts of 20 in the clause. According to the court records of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, etc Press release of the Ministry of Justice.
The person referred to in the email as “Robin” is apparently Robin Stone, former vice president of government affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.
Stone contacted Hornbuckle nearly three years later in January 2015 via email.
“Mc McCutcheon asked me to contact you,” Stone said in an email. “We are looking for [into] Arkansas Plan Requirements for Network Laboratory Status. I have a few questions…”
Hornbuckle emailed Chris and McCutcheon again in February 2015 to say, “Please let me know if we can help create transparency between the doctors and BCBS” about how the proposed Blue Cross Blue Shield policy on urine drugs would apply. Testing in pain management. The effect next month will hurt Bowman’s Compass Labs.
“Per Compass [Labs]In Alabama, we have many upset doctors who feel this will affect their ability to prescribe,” Hornbuckle said in an email. “These doctors are using the urine drug screen as a tool to pre-screen patients. ensure compliance. With limited testing available, many doctors believe that patients will become more comfortable and more likely to abuse not only prescription drugs, but illegal drugs as well. Our state is already in the top 5 states for drug abuse and may continue to rise if this project goes ahead. Please let me know if we can help create transparency between physicians and BCBS. I really enjoyed the inauguration and seeing you, sir.”
Mac McCutcheon responded to Hornbuckle saying, “I will be contacting BCBS for more information.”
“We need to be proactive about this,” Mac McCutcheon said in an email. “How’s that relationship going with the compass?”
The last payment 1819 News can verify from QBR LLC to Practical Approach Consulting was $1,250 on July 15, 2016.
According to court documents, the business relationship between Hornbuckle and Chris McCutcheon apparently began in 2016.
Christopher McCutcheon filed a civil suit against Hornbuckle in August 2016 in Madison County District Court, seeking compensatory and punitive damages, in part, for Hornbuckle allegedly “taking steps to remove the majority owner. [Christopher] McCutcheon Treasurer, CFO and Secretary.
In addition, Hornbuckle’s attorney sent letters to outside organizations such as Bryant Bank informing them that [Christopher] McCutcheon could no longer conduct any business on behalf of QBR,” G. Bartley Loftin III, Christopher McCutcheon’s attorney, wrote in the complaint. [Christopher] McCutcheon from any involvement in the business.”
Loftin also wrote in the complaint that “the result is [Christopher] McCutcheon has been completely excluded from QBR’s operations, even though he was an initial investor and still owns 49% of QBR.
W. Patton Hahn and Julie Schiff, attorneys for Hornbuckle, responded with a counterclaim in September 2016 seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Christopher McCutcheon.
“[W]Worked with QBR external accountants who were his wife and father-in-law, [Christopher] McCutcheon caused QBR’s financial statements to be inaccurate and incomplete and consistently failed to update QBR’s financial statements on the company’s accounting system, Peachtree,” Hornbuckle’s attorney said in the counterclaim.
Christopher McCutcheon denied allegations that he had harmed QBR in October 2016 in response to Hornbuckle. The civil suit was finally settled in April 2017.
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