Clinic pays $10 million in fraud settlement

By Rabia Mughal, contributing editor

April 23, 2008 -- Medicaid Dental Center (MDC) of North Carolina will pay $10,050,000 to the United States and North Carolina to settle claims that it fraudulently billed Medicaid for dental care on impoverished children.

The government alleges that the chain of clinics and its owners, including Michael A. DeRose, D.D.S., and Letitia L. Ballance, D.D.S., submitted reimbursement claims for unnecessary pulpotomies and stainless steel crowns, and that it failed to obtain informed consent.

"These dentists subjected their child patients to invasive and sometimes painful procedures, often for the sake of obtaining money from the North Carolina Medicaid program," said Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, acting assistant attorney general for the department's Civil Division, in a press release.

MDC's attorney, James Wyatt told that the billings were not "fraudulent." "The disputed billings involved differences of opinion among knowledgeable experts," he said.

The settlement concerns procedures done between 2001 and 2003. Both Dr. DeRose and Dr. Ballance were disciplined by the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners in 2005.

"Any question about the types of treatments given by M.D.C. were investigated and resolved in 2003," said Wyatt. "The clinics are now providing high quality service to people other dentists will not even see."

Copyright © 2008

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