Raleigh judge upholds decision of WVDHHR against Kostenko

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 21, 2016

BECKLEY – Raleigh Circuit Court Judge Robert Burnside upheld the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources decision that Dr. Michael Kostenko improperly operated his clinic as a pain clinic and now owes more than $200,000 in fines.

Burnside ruled that Kostenko was operating Coal Country Clinic as a pain clinic without a license and owes $204,000 in fines.

On April 9, 2015, the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification notified the clinic that the WVDHHR considered it an unlicensed pain clinic because more than 50 percent of the patients were being prescribed pain medication in the form of controlled substances.

In June 2015, Kostenko was granted an extension for time to relocate patients and, by August 2015, the clinic had implemented a “life partner program,” which was where patients brought along someone, but that person did not receive a prescription.

The number of patients receiving a prescription for a controlled substance dropped from nearly 100 percent to just under 50 percent with the implementation of the program.

In the hearing Wednesday, the OHFLC’s attorney, Steve Compton, said the initial penalty for operating as an unlicensed pain clinic is $20,000 and for each day the clinic remains open, which was 184 days in Kostenko’s case, the clinic is fined $10,000, bringing Kostenko’s total to $204,000.

Kostenko’s license was suspended in March by the West VIrignia Board of Medicine.

Burnside agreed with the WVDHHR's decision. Kostenko said he would not appeal the decision.

In April, Kostenko sued the WVDHHR, alleging corruption was the cause of the drug problem in the state. In November, the WVDHHR sued Kostenko for defying the state’s orders to shut down the clinic.

In June, a man sued Kostenko and the clinic due to a news piece that ran on CBS News that showed clips of Kostenko’s lectures, one of which showed the plaintiff in that suit and caused problems with family and friends.

Kostenko then sued CBS News for the January news segment, as well as another segment that aired in April, alleging the January news segment was done without even contacting him for comment. The April news segment, he alleged, used strongly edited clips in order to “fit the perception” that Kostenko was a drug trafficker owning a pill mill.

On June 8, the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine revoked Kostenko’s license.

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