NeurExpand Brain Center, the brain fitness and development center that opened in August in Friendship Heights, abruptly closed this month amid a dispute with Medicare.
Neurologist Majid Fotuhi, NeurExpand’s founder, said his business provided testing and brain fitness programs designed to enhance short-term memory performance and boost brain performance.
“We were providing a service for patients with cognitive challenges,” Fotuhi said.
He said Wednesday that Medicare reviewed the practice’s clinical program and determined there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to support the treatments offered. In September, Medicare stopped reimbursing the practice for the services it provided. At that time, costs for between 50 percent and 60 percent of the patients were paid through Medicare, he said.
While Fotuhi said more than half of the patients in the Friendship Heights office agreed to stay and pay him directly, the economics of the practice wouldn’t work without the Medicare reimbursements. “We tried to survive,” he said. “We cut costs. We laid off staff. We tried really hard.”
Fotuhi said Medicare has now demanded that NeurExpand pay back the entire amount that Medicare paid for treatments at the center. He would not say how much that is.
“I feel like Medicare did not treat us well,” Fotuhi said.
Lawyers representing NeurExpand sent a letter to Medicare on Wednesday offering to provide the program with the money the business has left in its accounts receivable.
“I hope Medicare will be kind to us,” Fotuhi said.
NeurExpand is also closing its Columbia location and has already closed its Lutherville office. The business has no other locations.
The business offered medical services designed to improve memory and reduce the risk of cognitive decline, according to its website. Fotuhi received his medical degree from Harvard University and later received a Ph.D from Johns Hopkins University.
Prior to starting NeurExpand, he served as the director of the Memory Disorders Unit at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, according to his biography on the NeurExpand website. Earlier this month, Fotuhi appeared on NBC’s Today Show to promote his Brain Fitness Calculator that’s designed to give people an idea of how they can improve their brain health.
Fotuhi said he hopes to open a smaller practice using the self-pay model in the Bethesda area.
With reporting by Steve Hull