Texas creates Medicaid dental fraud task force

The Texas Attorney General's Office and the Office of Inspector General at the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) have formed a task force designed to target Medicaid dental fraud, according to an article in the Texas Tribune.

The state hopes to improve investigations of fraudulent charges to the children's Medicaid program and recover losses more quickly. It is also intended to provide a comprehensive, coordinated response, the Texas Attorney General's Office noted in the article.

The state has been rocked by revelations of fraud by dentist and orthodontist Medicaid providers bilking the program out of tens of millions of dollars. And a scathing report released in April by the HHSC revealed that Texas orthodontists charged Medicaid as much for services as the rest of the U.S. combined in 2010 and that the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership (TMHP), tasked with evaluating and approving claims, was rubber-stamping them.

Through the new task force, the agencies will have an opportunity to take advantage of one another's resources. The inspector general's office has claims monitoring software capable of withholding suspect providers, while the attorney general has attorneys that can investigate and press charges, the article noted. Whistleblowers also are involved and the evidence they provide is sealed.

The task force intends to recover all fraudulently obtained funds from dental providers as well as TMHP. TMHP is cooperating with the investigation, a spokesman stated in the article.

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