Cut-throat tactics sweep through Medicaid patient recruiting

Print
Email
|

by BYRON HARRIS

Bio | Email

WFAA

Posted on August 2, 2012 at 10:22 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 3 at 12:10 AM

DALLAS - To treat a child under Medicaid, a dentist must have a parent's permission. But competition for Medicaid income is so fierce, some dental clinics are literally picking kids up off the street and taking them straight to the dentist's office without letting parents know.

Here's a sequence of events that transpired three weeks ago in southeast Dallas: Four boys, ages 13 through 17, were walking along a sidewalk in their neighborhood. A man, they say, drove up and asked them if they were on Medicaid. They all said yes.

The man replied, "How'd you like to make $10?"

Okay, they said.

"Just go to the dentists office and have your teeth cleaned," the man said.

All the boys already have dentists, but the man did not ask.

They were taken by van, they say, to All About Dentistry on Scyene Road, one of three clinics owned by Dr. Hamid Farahani. The boys say they were asked to sign their mothers' names on some papers, and ultimately treated by a man they assumed was a dentist.

Once in the chair, the dentist proceeded to numb their mouths with shots, drill their teeth, and put fillings in.

"They gave me four shots," said 15-year-old Devon Allen.

Devon's mother, Gale Allen, said her son suffers from chronic asthma and has some drug allergies. Not knowing this and not asking, the dentist filled several of Devon's teeth. That night his mouth swelled up, pictures show.

Jonathan Henderson, 13, and his brothers, Reginald, 17, and Roderick, 16, also got shots and fillings that day. Roderick got four shots and eight fillings, he said. Reginald got four.

None of the boys even knew they needed fillings.

"They're the dentist," Roderick said. "I thought that was right. I let 'em give me four cavities [fillings.]"

Both Reginald and Roderick already have braces on their teeth, installed by another Medicaid dentist. Reginald said his braces were broken by the dentist at All About Dentistry.

None of the boys were given any forms outlining what had been done to them.

Gale Allen, who contacted News 8, is infuriated. She's been unable to talk to the dentist, or to obtain any paperwork.

"They had no reason to approach Devon, first of all," she said. "Second of all, I'm his parent and for you to just pick up kids on the corner, that's wrong."

Regina Robertson, mother of Johnathan, Reginald and Roderick, is amazed it could happen. She said the boys are not old enough to sign any consent forms, because they're all still minors.

Mrs. Allen accompanied News 8 to the All About Dentistry clinic on Scyene.

At first, the receptionist said there was no dentist there that day, even though the clinic was clearly open. The dental licenses of two dentists were on the wall of the new facility. Finally, a Dr. Massood Shariati cracked open the door to the waiting room.

News 8 asked how his office could treat children without parental permission.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Shariati said. "I treat all patients correctly, I was on the Dean's list at Baylor Dental School."

Then he ducked back behind the door. A photocopied "Baylor's Dean's List" was framed, on the waiting room wall.

The receptionist got the clinic's owner, Dr. Hamid Farahani, on the phone. He also denied the boys had been mistreated. After a heated conversation with News 8, he hung up.

In later phone conversations, he promised to produce parental permission forms, but he never did. Farahani admits he employs a "marketer" to bring in patients, but would not reveal how much the marketer is paid.

News 8 asked the mother of three toddlers at the clinic if she was being paid to bring her children to the dentist. She said yes.

How much? "I don't know yet," she replied.

It is illegal to pay parents on Medicaid to bring the children. But in the murky world of Medicaid dental, it regularly happens. Parents are typically not paid by a clinic until after their children are treated.

Out in the parking lot, an unmarked van registered to Hamid Farahani matched the one the boys said picked them up.  Farahani admitted to News 8 it's his. He said it's legal for a clinic to provide transportation.

Gale Allen is seething.

"These people are driving around and soliciting them, and asking them do they want to make ten dollars," she said. "That's wrong."

Neither mother has been able to determine exactly what was done to their boys by All About Dentistry.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|