MEDI-CAL: L.A. Clinic Investigated For Alleged Fraud, Child Exploitation
Low-income children from several Los Angeles County housing projects "were allegedly recruited and paid up to $10 by a medical clinic to undergo unnecessary physical exams" that were subsequently submitted to Medi-Cal for reimbursement, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. According to law-enforcement authorities, the fraudulently provided care occurred at the Paramount Medical Center outside Los Angeles. The fraud came to light after a complaint from one of the children's parents prompted an investigation. "Young children ... [ages] 9 to 14 were allegedly approached and recruited by medical employees to be patients and provided with medical exams," in some instances gynecological exams, "with the promise of a reward," stated Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Mason Kenny. After clinic staffers provided transportation for the children from housing projects in South-Central Los Angeles, north Long Beach and Compton, the clinic "reportedly paid each boy $5 and each girl $10; payment was higher for girls because gynecological exams could be performed on them," Kenny said. "Following the examinations, they were provided with prescriptions for spermicidal condoms and birth control," added Kenney. Although the number of children recruited by the clinic has not been determined, records confiscated from the clinic's director, Dr. Candace Chang, show that "the clinic treated about 100 boys and 25 girls daily." In response to the investigation's findings, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a measure yesterday to launch an informational campaign to notify residents "who might have been affected by the alleged scam." Supervisor Don Knabe noted that authorities are also investigating a Long Beach clinic run by Chang. He said, "If any of it is true, it's absolutely outrageous" (Canto, 9/23).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.