Orthodontic Braces: Taxpayers Spent $424 Million for Children in Texas

Orthodontic Braces: Taxpayers Spent $424 Million for Children in TexasIn June of this year, The Wealthy Dentist published a story about Taxpayers footing the bill for orthodontic braces in Texas.

In Texas, Medicaid pays dentists for orthodontics per procedure, instead of a lump sum for the “finished mouth” of straight teeth.

This has made Medicaid orthodontia a lucrative dental business in Texas.

WFAA-TV of Texas has been investigating this story for the last six months and has uncovered hundreds of millions of dollars of questionable Medicaid spending on dental braces for children in Texas. Their news reports prompted federal investigators to now audit the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which controls the Medicaid funds.

According to the WFAA website –

In a letter to the state, the Inspector General says it will examine the “authorization process for orthodontic treatment” under Texas Medicaid. “The objective of our audit,” the letter continues, “is to review the State’s controls to ensure that only medically necessary orthodontic cases are paid.” The time period covered by the audit is September 1, 2008 through May 28, 2011.

The new station’s investigation revealed that during that period, Texas taxpayers spent $424 million on orthodontic braces for children under Medicaid. Taxpayers spent $100 million in 2008, $140 million in 2009, and $184 million in 2010, state records show.

Texas dentist, Dr. Christine Ellis, who teaches at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has twice traveled to Washington in an attempt to convince lawmakers to scale back Texas Medicaid orthodontics payments and divert funds for more pressing dental needs.

Her attempts fell on deaf ears. According to the WFAA-TV article, Ellis said, “There’s no response. No one is putting the brakes on this thing.”

Billy Millwee of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is now telling WFAA-TV that if taxpayers money has been lost, the Attorney General might take action to get it back. He went on to say that Texas will have a new managed care Medicaid dental program beginning next spring.

For more on this story see: Feds Investigate Texas Dental Medicaid Program and Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Braces in Texas.

Dental Care: Dentist Uses Paper Clips for Root Canals

Dental Care: Dentist Uses Paper Clips for Root CanalsPaper clips for dental patient root canals and Hydrocone for the dental staff — does this sound like a normal dental practice to you?

It doesn’t to Maryland Superior Court Judge Richard Moses, who is scheduled to sentence former dentist Michael Clair on one count of tampering with evidence, one count of witness intimidation, two counts of assault and battery, three counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances, three counts of larceny, and five counts of Medicaid fraud.

Sounds like the legal system is having a good time working Dr. Clair over. But was it deserved . . . absolutely!

Dr. Michael Clair fraudulently billed Medicaid for $130,000 between August 2003 and June 2005. At that time he was licensed to practice dentistry, but had been prohibited from doing work on Medicaid patients. Investigators allege Clair performed the work and then had other dentists in the practice submit bills to Medicaid.

The investigation also charged that Clair twice used paper clips rather than the more expensive stainless steel posts to strengthen teeth given a root canal. Investigators also charged Clair with prescribing Hydrocodone, Combunox and Percocet to staff members, who in turn gave some of the medicine back to him.

Clair has admitted guilty to all the charges.

Read more: Fall River dentist who used paper clips pleads guilty before trial

Texas Medicaid Braces Dentist Builds Water Park at Mansion

Texas Medicaid Braces Dentist Builds Water Park at MansionAfter months of The Wealthy Dentist’s coverage of the ongoing story behind the Medicaid braces racket in Texas, WFAA-TV is now reporting that one of the dentists being charged with massive fraud is in the process of installing a water park on his mansion property.

The Wealthy Dentist began its coverage of Texas Medicaid orthodontics in June of 2011, when we reported that in 2010, Texas spent $184 million on Medicaid orthodontics — more than the rest of the United States combined.

Nowhere was the lucrative business of Medicaid braces more evident than with Texas dentist Richard Malouf’s mansion in Dallas.

It is a massive French chateau with a pool house big enough for the average American family of four to live in. The Maloufs also own the mansion next door. According to tax records, the combined value of the two properties is more than $14 million.

They are known in Texas as the house that braces built.

Now, as two lawsuits charge dentist Malouf with fraud, he continues to expand his mansion properties.

Real estate columnist Candy Evans told WFAA-TV, “There’s going be a gymnasium, a rock climbing wall and there’s plans for a bowling alley upstairs. There’s going to be exercise rooms.”

According to the WFAA-TV website –

Attorney Jim Moriarty is one of a consortium of attorneys in the action lawsuit, led by Waters & Kraus in Dallas. They say samples of Malouf’s records show that 100 percent of his Medicaid claims were false.

“Frankly, it borders on being obscene,” Moriarty said of the mansion expansion. “The taxpayers of the State of Texas paid to build that house, and are paying to expand that house for a guy who claims to have made his money treating the people of Texas.”

WFAA-TV originally uncovered that Malouf’s All Smiles Dental Centers of Texas had orthodontia billings of up to $10.2 million while under his control.

Since those days, Chicago-based hedge fund Equity Partners acquired All Smiles Dental for an undisclosed sum and is now involved bankruptcy proceedings in Texas.

For more on this story see: Dentist in Medicaid Suit Adding a Water Park to His Mansion

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