MEDI-CAL: Dental Fraud Adds to Medi-Cal Abuses
After nine months of investigating Medi-Cal abuses in the dentistry program, law enforcement officers arrested four people yesterday for operating a $1 million fraud ring. The arrests were the first in an ongoing probe into dental facilities in the Los Angeles area. Using low-income Californians and San Joaquin Valley farm workers to make phony claims, the Pico Cosmetic Dental Clinic is accused of billing the Medi-Cal program for expensive procedures never performed or unnecessary dental services that have left some patients with "severe permanent damage to their teeth." Of the $2.5 million worth of claims filed by the clinic between January 1998 and June 1999, officials believe nearly $1 million were fraudulent. Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force's Environmental Health Specialist Don Ashton predicts "many more arrests for dental fraud later this year." He said the employment of multiple agencies allows law officials to "cross jurisdictional lines and to attack all parts of the operation at once" (Ellis, Los Angeles Times, 1/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.