State Representative Chris Turner

Audit Requested by Turner Confirms Contract Concerns

“BSI (Brain Synergy Institute) put the health and safety of participants at risk…”

Last year, I asked for an Inspector General (IG) auditof a 2013 contract between Brain Synergy Institute (formerly Carrick Brain Centers) and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).  The request came after Dallas Morning News and NBC5 news stories highlighting troubling issues with the contract and the use of a controversial “spinning chair” treatment on veterans with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Late last week, the IG’s report was released and the findings confirmed many of my concerns.

First, some background – in the summer of 2013, then-Governor Rick Perry’s staff began negotiations with HHSC executives to sign a contract with Irving-based Brain Synergy Institute (BSI) for a research study focused on treating veterans with PTS and/or TBI with a spinning chair or “Off-Vertical Axis Rotation Therapy” (OVART). This controversial “treatment” had not been vetted by the scientific community and there was no proof that it would help veterans, or anyone else. Even so, after Governor Perry visited BSI several times and with pressure from his office, the contract was quickly approved.

The state ended up spending more than $2.2 million of your money on this useless “study.”

The Inspector General concluded what I have suspected all along – a stunning level of incompetence on the part of former agency officials and abuse of taxpayer dollars by BSI.

Here’s are some of the deficiencies highlighted in the report:

  • A poorly designed contract, including inadequate research protocol and did not have a control group nor oversight by an Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  • BSI didn’t provide the same treatment to all participants, making findings invalid
  • Completion reports didn’t meet the contract requirements
  • The study was not valid and there is no way to determine whether participants benefitted from the treatment
  • BSI billed for treatment of veterans who were not Texas residents and several veterans who had already received the treatment
  • Worst of all, BSI put the health and safety of participants at risk

In response to the findings, HHSC is demanding BSI pay back over $278,000 to the state of Texas.

Getting some money back from these bad actors is a good start, but given the long list of their failures, they should return every penny of the $2.2-plus million they received as part of this contract.

BSI is not the only one at fault. This is yet one more example of the cronyism that was rampant during the administration of Governor Perry. It is clear this contract would never have happened were it not for his office’s meddling.

Texas taxpayers deserve better than this kind of corruption and cronyism.  And veterans who have served our nation deserve better than useless studies and false promises.

 

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