L.A. CLINICS: Investigation Continues Amid Concern For Children’s Health
The investigation continues into allegations of fraudulent Medi-Cal billing at Dr. Candace Chang's Paramount Medical Center, amid charges that the facility provided "substandard" medical care to children recruited for unnecessary medical exams, the Los Angeles Times reports. The clinic allegedly billed "the state for corrective shoe inserts that were never provided to patients," subjected girls as young as nine to gynecological exams after telling them to lie about their ages and paid recruiters to transport patients. "One concern for investigators is that blood tests on as many as 100 children a day may have identified some health problems that were never treated," the Times reports. In response, Fred Leaf, chief investigator for the county Department of Health Services, said his agency was sifting through medical and billing records. The Times reports that although patients were recruited to give blood and undergo gynecological exams, patient charts showed there were "virtually no medical assessments of them." Concern for the patients' welfare prompted Leaf to begin a more thorough inquiry into the patient care provided. "We want to see what tests were rendered and what the results were," he said, adding, "Anything that turns up positive, we want to make sure there is adequate follow-up and treatment." In addition, investigators found numerous billing documents without accompanying medical charts, "leading them to believe that the state was being billed for services not rendered."
All In A Day's Work
The county DHS, the county counsel, the sheriff and the district attorney are all participating in a task force to investigate the matter. According to the warrant, the clinic allegedly employed several so-called "cappers" to transport children from housing projects in South-Central Los Angeles to the clinic, and paid $10 for each male recruit and $20 for each female recruit. Neighbors of the clinics said that 50-60 children would arrive daily. One capper told officers he could make $500 each day. Leaf said the investigators have not determined the kinds of tests provided to the children or whether their blood was sold. The Board of Supervisors has requested a formal report of the investigation and plans to determine its jurisdiction over other state and federally operated clinics within its boundaries. Supervisor Don Knabe said should the allegations be true, "it's incredible what we have learned thus far that has transpired -- the amount of money that's being made as well as the abuse of the system." The Times reports that "[c]linics in Long Beach and the San Fernando Valley also were said to be under scrutiny" (Shuit/Leonard, 9/26).