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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Franchise or Ponzi Dental Scheme? — Comfort Dental

In an Affidavit filed this week in the Bahr brothers (CDMO & CDET) v. Rick Kushner and Comfort Dental lawsuit reveals the abuse and threats that reign down from Kushner and other Comfort Dental executives.

Louisville, Colorado Comfort Dental subfranchisees were berated, threatened and assessed $50,000 penalty for failing to use Budget Dental Lab dba Premier Dental Lab owned by Rick Kushner—owner of Comfort Dental, Inc.—and his brother, Barry Kushner, along with Roy Martin, C. Michael Bloss, Bruce Irick and Neil Norton.

“We would order an appliance from the non-Comfort Dental lab because quality was much higher and much more reliable.”

“In some cases costs were higher when using a non-Comfort Dental lab, but we felt it necessary to serve our patients’ best interest.”

“Comfort Dental assessed a $50,000b out-o-system lab referral penalty on us.”

“…after having been summoned by Rick Kushner, at a meeting at the Comfort Dental headquarters in Lakewood, CO… we (the partners of Louisville (CO) office were admonished by Rick Kushner and about the franchise violation, use of an outside lab. Immediately thereafter, Rick Kushner announced that a $50,000 fine was being imposed on our office/partnership. The entire sum due and payable in 2 weeks.”

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Florida Dentists, Dr. Miranda W. Smith-Smiles and Giggles Dentistry-Arrested Medicaid Fraud

One of Dr. Miranda Smith’s patient had perfect teeth, yet in Smith’s treatment plan she pulled every tooth and fit the patient with ill-fitting 140523 miranda smith-florida-medicaid frauddentures; a pattern said investigators.

Other’s were children, sedated, for dental treatment they didn’t need.

Her husband blames the whole mess on “two disgruntled and racist employees”. And says, “She’s been fighting this for three years, nine employees and their families are out of work because of this”.

 

Christopher Torres, her attorney, says many of the charges have been disproved on an “administrative level” and believes the criminal charges won’t hold up.

Apparently the Feds think otherwise and have a 21-page affidavit to back it up with $140,000 in Medicaid fraud charges.

It’s not the disgruntled employees that concern me, it’s the ones who are happy at their job working for dentists like these.

Smiles and Giggles Dentistry for Children and Adults is located in Spring Hill, Florida.

 

Florida AG Press Release:

imageAttorney General Pam Bondi News Release

May 23, 2014
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Arrest a Tampa Bay Dentist

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, with the assistance of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, arrested Pasco County Dentist Dr. Miranda Smith on charges of Medicaid Provider fraud.

Dr. Smith, owner of Smiles and Giggles Dentistry for Children and Adults in Pasco County, allegedly billed Florida’s Medicaid program more than $140,000 in dental services which were either unauthorized or not provided.

The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit initiated its investigation of Smith and her dental practice after receiving complaints about suspicious billing from parents and patients. According to the investigation, Smith billed Medicaid for x-rays, anesthesia, and other dental procedures that were not performed. Additionally, former patients alleged that Smith’s employees provided dental care, even though these employees were not licensed dentists.

According to the investigation, at least one minor patient's parent was told her child had eight cavities and would need to be sedated to perform urgent dental work. The parent received a second opinion from a dentist with more than two decades of experience. The dentist performed her own examination and found that the child had no cavities.

Investigators also found that Dr. Smith and staff exhibited a pattern of pulling healthy teeth in an effort to sell patients dentures and make larger Medicaid claims.

Smith is being charged with two counts of Medicaid Fraud. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. The Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute this case.

The Florida Department of Health’s Board of Dentistry voted on May 16, 2014, to suspend the license of Miranda W. Smith, D.D.S., in case number 2011-12390. This suspension will become a Final Order of the board within the next few business days.

I couldn’t help but compare the two pictures above! LOL

Never mind…

Friday, May 23, 2014

Texas State Board of Dental Examiners take swift action!

For those who think the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners can’t take swift action, you are dead wrong.

Bryan, Texas creepy dentist and dental board member, Dr. William Reagan Birdwell was arrested Wednesday, May 21, 2014 after caught filming an employee changing in his office bathroom.

At  lightening speed the board took harsh action by removing any mention of him on their board member page.

So there!

Birdwell was appointed by Governor Rick Perry in 2009 for a term ending in 2015. I guess his term ended early.

Wednesday May 21, 2014 TSBDE Board Members

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Two days later, poof, he’s gone!

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

CSHM-Small Smiles Dental v. Jodi Kuhn: Kuhn Responds to Complaint

The Hearing scheduled for May 14, 2014 to hear arguments on the Temporary Restraining Order and Injunction was rescheduled until after June 5, 2014 apparently to allow time for discovery such as a deposition of Jodi Kuhn. (see Joint Motion to Reschedule)

(Waist high boots will not be nearly high enough; so I’m thinking a full diving getup will be needed.)

May 6, 2014 Kuhn filed her Response to CSHM’s Complaint, which I thought odd. Usually at least 2 extensions are asked for before those are ever filed.

Reading the Response will make your head spin, but don’t be alarmed. It’s suppose to make the judge’s head spin, and frankly after reading the Complaint and the Response my sympathy is with any judge who finds this mess on his docket.

I find the Complaint and Response something conjured up in a witch’s cauldron. Hardly a sentence in either has the actual truth of the matter at hand. I wonder how she squares up everything in her Response with the clinics she has her name slapped all over in Ohio and Kentucky. (you will see what I mean when you read it) .

If Kuhn’s lies hold, then every clinic is up for grabs in more than just Small Smiles!

She goes into great depth about how CSHM was the one Excluded from Medicaid and not her Colorado clinics. She even attaches the Joint Report by Senators Baucus and Grassley, talking about what terrible treatment children receive at Small Smiles clinics.

Since she contends HHS-OIG has serious problems with CSHM, and not Small Smiles clinics, I wonder why the clinics, staff and treatment received at the clinics were under such scrutiny; CSHM wasn’t treating these sweet children.

Anyone think HHS-OIG had problems with the way Kuhn’s paycheck was being printed or something? Further she didn’t mind one bit to hand over every dime “her” clinics made to CSHM until the Exclusion was announced.

Frankly, I would have been pissed long before now they were taking all the money I was making straight out of my bank account. Plus, I’d be pissed they were still taking it out of my Ohio and Kentucky clinics. She doesn’t mention those clinics. Hmmm…. 

Doc 24 CSHM v Kuhn Response

Related Documents:

CSHM v Jodi Kuhn Complaint, April 21, 2014
CSHM v Jodi Kuhn Response, May 6, 2014
Thornton Small Smiles Purchase Agreement, May 6, 2014
Thornton Small Smiles Stock Pledge Agreement, May 6, 2014
Joint Motion To Reschedule TRO Hearing, May 12, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dental Group Practice Association changing it’s name to Association of Dental Support Organizations

What’s in a name? A brand.

Anyone besides me think the DGPA has gotten such a bad reputation over recent years, it needed a name change? Does it matter? Not really. They are who they are, not matter what they call themselves.

“Association of Dental Support Organizations” Unveiled as New Trade Association Name

(May 13, 2014) – NAME CHANGE REFLECTS EVOLUTION IN THE DENTAL PROFESSION AND ASSOCIATION’S FOCUS

DENVER, May 13, 2014The Dental Group Practice Association (DGPA), a nonprofit industry association representing more than 30 dental support organizations (DSOs), announced today that the organization has changed its name to the Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO).

“It’s important that our organization’s name clearly reflects our mission to support DSOs and all they do to ensure the delivery of innovative, high quality and cost effective care,” said Dr. Quinn Dufurrena, Executive Director of ADSO. “Our mission is to provide world-class business and technology support services to dentists, a partnership that lets dentists focus on what they do best, which is serving their patients.”

Friday, May 09, 2014

Texas v. Xerox in connection with massive dental fraud in the state

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2014
www.texasattorneygeneral.gov

State of Texas Files Legal Action to Recover Fraudulent Medicaid Payments from Xerox

State of Texas Files Legal Action to Recover Fraudulent Medicaid Payments from Xerox

AUSTIN – The Texas Attorney General’s Office today filed a civil lawsuit in state district court against Xerox Corporation and its wholly owned subsidiary, ACS State Healthcare LLC. The State’s legal action seeks to recover fraudulent Medicaid payments for orthodontic and dental services that were improperly approved by Xerox.

Since 2003, Xerox has served as the vendor responsible for reviewing dental and orthodontic claims submitted to the Medicaid program. Under state law, orthodontic services are not generally eligible for coverage under the Medicaid program. Only the most acute cases where orthodontic disfigurement poses a health risk to a patient are eligible for Medicaid coverage; the Medicaid program does not cover cosmetic orthodontics. The State’s lawsuit seeks to recover Medicaid payments that Xerox approved for orthodontic services that were not medically necessary and therefore not authorized by law.

Texas Attorney General's lawsuit against Xerox Corporation and ACS State Healthcare LLC

Today’s legal action reflects the culmination of a lengthy multi-agency investigation into orthodontic Medicaid fraud. In June of 2012, the Attorney General’s Office, together with the Texas Health & Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the HHSC-Office of Inspector General formed a dental and orthodontic fraud task force to investigate fraudulent overbilling by dental and orthodontic Medicaid providers. One of the results of the task force’s investigation was the discovery that Xerox had not been properly reviewing orthodontic claims as required by its contract with the State. Further, the task force uncovered evidence revealing that Xerox systemically approved orthodontic claims that were not authorized by state law.

The State’s law enforcement action is seeking injunctive relief, civil penalties and restitution of overpayments made by the Medicaid program as a result of Xerox’s unlawful conduct.

CONTACT
Press Office at
(512) 463-2050

Partners Uncomfortable at Comfort Dental; patients caught in the crossfire.

In an article on Dentaltown, dated October 2012 Comfort Dental founder, Rick Kushner said: -

“Corporate dentistry scares the hell out of me for two reasons: first, whether they get their money from the public or from private equity, corporate dentistry will always have only one priority: demonstrate more profit. (By the way, Comfort Dental has only one original money source: me. Oh and a couple of local banks. Of course, every single Comfort partner is equity invested in his/her own Comfort partnership.) And secondly, as a dental “chain” we are unfairly lumped together with corporate dentistry by ignorant dentists including DSIs (dental school instructors) and of course, some patients. Structurally and philosophically we at Comfort are as far from corporate dentistry as traditional private practice. Had the profession listened to me instead of attacked me over the past few decades, the professional landscape would be saturated with Lean & Mean group type practices so prosperous that there would have been neither need nor room for corporate dentistry. So again, how did corporate dentistry happen? It’s dentists’ fault. It’s DSIs (dental school instructors) fault. It’s not my fault; it’s their fault. Dental practices were so bad for so long with their 80 percent overheads and their hygiene-heavy practices that businessmen in business suits looked at them and instinctively knew they could do better and keep the difference in profits. And guess what? They were right. Businessmen in business suits looked at dental practice and knew they could handle our business better than dentists. So they did. Not my fault. I warned dentists but they were smarter than me. Graduates laden with debt and corporate dentistry are a match made in heaven. “

I would agree with 90% of that statement.

However a Complaint filed March 25, 2014 in Colorado US District Court accuses Comfort Dental of “exerting excessive and improper control over medical decisions and judgment of dentists practicing in Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana” appears to indicate Comfort Dental is more “corporate” than Mr. Kushner likes to think. 

A Brief filed with the Compliant, seeing an Injunction against Comfort Dental  states:

“Comfort Dental’s illegal conduct exposes Plaintiffs to immediate and irreparable harm. Comfort Dental’s demands that the Plaintiffs participate in the MLRP (Mandatory Lab Referral Program) and sell the Gold Plan (unregistered discount medical plan) force Plaintiffs to make an impossible choice: lose their 25 year franchise or violate the laws of multiple jurisdictions.…it impermissibly interferes with, and exerts control over, dentists’ independent medical judgment and forces Comfort Dental dentists to place the financial interests of Comfort Dental’ s owners over the best interest of their dental patients…threatens irreparable harm by threatening to terminate Plaintiff’s franchise, and by demanding that they engage in potently illegal conduct which could expose them to penalties, professional licensure actions and damage to their patients relationships and reputations. “

I read this to say, instead of dentists being fired, their Subfranchisee Agreement can be terminated without notice or opportunity to correct problems that may arise.This sounds a whole lot like more like “corporate dentistry” than independent franchise owners to me. As always I could be wrong.

However, before getting into what meticulously laid out in the Complaint and other pleadings, you need to know the players:

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Dr. Li Lou Skelton aka Dr. Li Lou, 7 pending malpractice suits in Texas

Dr. Li Lou Skelton, current dental license status is Active/Probation.

Agreed Settlement Order that began in June 2008; all related to Dr. Skelton’s dental treatment of 8 patients fell below the acceptable standard of care on  2004 and March 2008.

August 2010 Agreed Settlement Order dated August 2010, over substandard care of 17 additional patients. In addition to restitution to patients Skelton agreed to pay the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners $20,000 over the next 4 years in $5,000 installments.

Five Malpractices cases were filed against her in 2013 and between February and April of 2014, 3 additional cases have been filed.

This woman as 7 pending malpractice suits!!

Where is the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners?

 

  Case No. Date Filed Case Status
1 2011CI09803 06-14-2011 DISPOSED
2 2011CI15583 09-23-2011 DISPOSED
3 2013CI00047 01-02-2013 PENDING
4 2013CI05704 04-04-2013 DISPOSED
5 2013CI08156 05-14-2013 PENDING
6 2013CI08796 05-23-2013 PENDING
7 2013CI20502 12-18-2013 PENDING
8 2014CI02109 02-12-2014 PENDING
9 2014CI05424 04-03-2014 PENDING
10 2014CI05500 04-04-2014 PENDING
       
       
       
       
       

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Faulted in Medicaid Fraud, Company Keeps Contract

Faulted in Medicaid Fraud, Company Keeps Contract

The New York TimesFor nearly five years, a state contractor allowed workers with limited expertise to approve dental claims for Texas’ Medicaid program, the joint state-federal insurer. State spending on orthodontic services spiraled out of control; by 2012, federal and state auditors found that the contractor’s actions had opened the door for a “massive Medicaid fraud scheme” that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

More than two years later, Texas health officials have reeled in spending on Medicaid texas tribuneorthodontic services and pursued legal action against health care providers who billed for the services. But a Texas Tribune investigation found that while health officials have repeatedly raised concerns with the contractor, a Xerox subsidiary called the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership, they have not severed its multiyear contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Critics accuse the state of dragging its feet because of the contractor’s political ties to Gov. Rick Perry, a claim the governor’s office says is not true.

Continue reading at New York Times

Read Texas Tribune Article Here - Company That OK's Unnecessary Braces Kept Its Contract


Related:

“Ho” Down in Texas – James W. Orr, DDS Testifies for Antoine Dental Center