Rural TN community worried about losing doctor of 30 years - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rural TN community worried about losing doctor of 30 years

Dr. Bryan Merrick has been seeing patients at his practice in McKenzie, TN, for 31 years. (WSMV) Dr. Bryan Merrick has been seeing patients at his practice in McKenzie, TN, for 31 years. (WSMV)
MCKENZIE, TN (WSMV) -

It's rare these days to find a doctor who still makes house calls.

One rural Tennessee community is afraid of losing the doctor who has served them for more than 30 years. They blame it on a government agency that won't listen.

Dr. Bryan Merrick has been seeing patients at his practice in McKenzie, TN, for 31 years, but later this week - unless he gets a reprieve - he's effectively being shut down.

"It's unbelievable, really. Hard to believe this could happen in this country," Merrick said.

The federal government is cutting him out of the Medicare program.

They say he billed the government for 10 patients he didn't see. In some cases, the patients were dead.

Merrick says this isn't fraud and that these were clerical errors. For example, a staff member mixed up two patients with similar names.

This doesn't just affect one doctor and his patients. It affects the entire medical center, serving at least three counties.

McKenzie Medical Center serves Henry, Carroll and Weakly counties. They are medically underserved areas. Merrick is one of only two internists.

Loyal patients like Ed Perkins worry they'll lose a doctor who is dedicated and compassionate - one who gives people his cellphone number.

"He's a victim of the system," Perkins said.

Former Sen. Roy Herron is asking elected officials in Washington to look at the case, but he says he's meeting a lot of resistance.

"For 31 years, he's practiced without blemish, without even an accusation, and now, the federal government is taking him away from his patients, and they're taking away his livelihood. And somebody's gonna die," said Herron, who is a friend of Merrick.

The total dollar amount the government is questioning is $670 billed over a two-year period.

It's money the doctor says he never got because Medicare caught the mistakes before they paid the claims.

If the clinic closes, 280 jobs could be lost.

News 4 reached out to the Medicare office in Washington, D.C. Employees there said they are working on a response to News 4's questions.

Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly