Bill to limit Medicaid abuse passes Texas legislature

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by BYRON HARRIS

WFAA

Posted on June 14, 2013 at 11:55 PM

DALLAS -- Last August, News 8 discovered children were being lured into vans with cash and promises of pizza, taken to dentists offices, and injected with painkillers without their parents’ permission.

Then, records show, unneeded dental work was done on the children, and Medicaid was billed.

More than a dozen children were taken into the vans, with many going to All About Dentistry, a clinic in Mesquite. All About Dentistry is now closed. The dentist who performed the work was Dr. Seyed Masoud Shariati, a 2004 graduate of Baylor Dental College.

After the stories aired, Dr. Shariati returned to his native Iran, federal sources told News 8.

Now, News 8 has learned Shariati has returned to the United States, and is practicing at Cockrell Hill Dentistry in Dallas. He would not speak when we approached him outside the Cockrell Hill office.

“What the dentist did was unbelievable,” said Gale Jennings-Allen, mother of Devon Allen, who was one of the kids whose mouth was worked on without parents’ permission.

Devon Allen’s records show Dr. Shariati did the work and billed Medicaid for $890. Instead of his mother’s signature for permission, the words “Signature On File” were typed onto the form.

Records obtained by News 8 under the Texas Public Information Act indicate Dr. Shariati has billed Medicaid $1.4 million since 2006.

Mrs. Jennings-Allen and other parents filed complaints with Dallas police, but she said police couldn’t decide what to charge Shariati with. Last month, a complaint against Shariati was filed with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, News 8 has learned.

Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) introduced Senate Bill 8, designed to limit fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicaid in the recently concluded 83rd session of the legislature. It prohibits personal contact between Medicaid “recruiters” and patients and parents. It also prohibits payments to  patients or parents. Both problems were outlined in several News 8 reports.

The bill passed the legislature.

All About Dentistry is one of three clinics owned by dentist Hamid Farhani. Dr. Farahani, News 8 discovered, owned the van that picked up the children. He owns two other dental clinics in Garland and Ft. Worth.

When News 8 talked to him last year, he said there was no problem with the children who were treated, and that it was all caused by “a typo.” He said at the time that Medicaid was investigating and he was cooperating fully. There is no evidence of any Medicaid action against him.

Under Senate Bill 8, the office of the inspector general of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services will have five law enforcement officers to police Medicaid fraud. Also under Senate Bill 8, Health and Human Services will have to analyze Medicaid expenditures and report them on a quarterly basis. To do that, the office of Inspector General will be allotted more staff and data analysis technology. Over the next five years, these tools are projected to save the state $65 million.

If Governor Perry signs the bill, as is expected, it will take effect in September.

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