NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
The black market for Medicaid Dental patients is going strong, despite the state’s tightening of the payment system for providing dental care to poor children.
Phyllis Gonzales said she was paid more than $1,000 by 1-Stop Dental in Hurst over a two-month period. In exchange, she said she brought about 60 kids and their parents to the dentist’s office.
There, she said parents got between $20 and $35 for switching their children to the dentist working there.
It’s illegal to pay a parent to switch dentists under Medicaid, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
The 1-Stop story came to News 8’s attention because of flyers stuck under car windshield wipers at DART station parking lots.
“The policy was basically to bring as many patients as possible,” Gonzales said. “The payment [to Gonzales] was $10 per child, with bonuses of $100 once you reached ten children."
When she reached 30 children, Gonzales said she received a $300 bonus.
Ms. Gonzales said she printed up the flyers on a copy machine in 1-Stop’s office.
“Get paid to take ur [sic] kids to the dentist? The dentist is giving $20.00 to $35.00 per kid with Medicaid,” the flyer said.
The flyer listed a telephone number. News 8 called the number and talked to Gonzales, who told us to go to 1-Stop Dental in Hurst for our reward.
Gonzales said she didn’t know the practice was illegal until she saw a story on News 8 about 1-Stop’s recruiting practices.
“If I would have known this was illegal, I would have never stepped foot in that office,” she said, adding that she called News 8 with her side of the story to clear her name.
Lloyd Ward, the attorney for 1-Stop, said the clinic never paid parents to switch dentists. He said the clinic has surrendered its financial records to state authorities.
“We have turned over everything in our possession to show them that nobody has ever been paid,” Ward said.
1-Stop Dental and two other clinics — Gold Star Dental in Fort Worth and 1st Impression Dental in Arlington — are owned by Ali Mostafaie, according to Mostafaie’s Facebook page.
Mr. Mostafaie is married to Dr. Victoria Tran, a dentist who practices at the three clinics.
Attorney Ward said the pair did pay recruiter Gonzales to find patients for the clinics, but when she did not round up enough new Medicaid business, she was fired.
“I think this is her chance, if you will, to retaliate against them,” Ward said.
Pay records Ward showed News 8 indicate the recruiter was paid even more than Gonzales herself said — close to $2,000 over a two-month period.
Mostafaie is the owner of 3M Marketing, which wrote the checks to Ms. Gonzales — and, Gonzales says, to the parents.
“If your child was six months to three months old, they [the parents] would be compensated $20. If your child was three years through 18, they would be compensated $35, and it was through checks,” Gonzales said.
3M Marketing is listed at the same address where Mostafaie and Dr. Tran live in Dallas, state records show.
Gonzales, the recruiter, said Mostafaie told her to shred all records of her work at 1-Stop after News 8 broadcast its story. She also said Mostafaie told her: “The dentist [Mostafaie’s wife] is not paying you. 3M Marketing is paying you."
Gonzales said other recruiters worked for Mostafaie’s other clinics.
In Austin, State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, chair of the House Public Health Committee, is considering how the legislature might redirect policy to head off recruiting, Medicaid Dental over-treatment, and potential over-spending.
“Those dollars are precious,” she said. “Any time we waste a dollar, we cheat someone. We cheat someone else who deserved those services.”