Health Care

Johnson County dental business to pay $5 million in Medicaid fraud case

Samson Dental Partners in Leawood
Samson Dental Partners in Leawood

A dental business in Leawood has been deemed “a continuing high risk to the federal health care programs and their beneficiaries,” after agreeing to pay more than $5 million to settle allegations of Medicaid fraud.

Samson Dental Partners does accounting, billing and other administrative services for dozens of ImmediaDent urgent care dental clinics in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The company and those clinics agreed to the settlement after a whistleblower alleged that they submitted false Medicaid claims and pressured dentists to provide unnecessary deep cleanings to bill more.

“Let this be a warning to health care organizations that the United States government is watching, and will continue to watch for false claims no matter how large or small,” said U.S. Attorney Russell M. Coleman of Kentucky. “The U.S. Attorney’s office is protecting the taxpayers’ dollars every day with the help of our state and local partners.”

The whistleblower complaint was filed by Indiana dentist Jihaad Abdul-Majid, who will receive $925,000 of the settlement.

The complaint said Samson Dental’s non-medical staff in Leawood exerted undue influence on the medical decisions in the urgent care clinics by rewarding or disciplining doctors based on how much they were billing.

The office is in Mission Farms, off Mission Road.

Samson Dental Partners, in a statement released by vice president of marketing Stephen Valenti, emphasized that the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing.

“To the contrary, the companies strongly disagree with the assertion that they knowingly did anything improper,” the statement said. “However, after almost four years of litigation and significant expense already incurred, the companies have concluded that their collective energies are better focused on continuing their expansion efforts, and working to provide the best care possible to patients.”

The statement also said that the billing fraud was alleged to have begun in 2009 “under prior management” and was over by 2013. It said the company had started new procedures to ensure better Medicaid compliance even before the whistleblower complaint.

“These efforts have continued, today the companies currently maintain a state-of-the-art compliance program which operates at the forefront of the ever-changing landscape of government-funded programs,” the statement said.

Valenti did not address why Samson Dental declined to participate in a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General. The office, known as OIG, had asked to regularly monitor Samson Dental and ImmediaDent’s Medicaid compliance as part of the settlement.

“The companies refused to agree to this oversight,” a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice said. “OIG has determined that in the absence of such oversight, the companies pose a continuing high risk to the federal health care programs and their beneficiaries.”

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said state and federal law enforcement would keep an eye on the companies, and other health care providers.

“We appreciate the collaboration of our federal partners in this particular case and we intend to remain vigilant going forward to make sure Medicaid monies are used for their designated purposes,” Hill said in a statement released by the Justice Department.