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North Carolina Dental Services Chain Pays $10 Million to Resolve False Claims Allegations
Date:4/9/2008

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Medicaid Dental Center (MDC), a privately-owned chain of dental clinics in North Carolina previously known as Smile Starters and Carolina Dental Center, has reached a settlement with the United States and North Carolina to resolve False Claims Act allegations, the Justice Department announced today. Under the agreement, MDC agreed to pay $10,050,000 to resolve allegations that it caused false or fraudulent claims for payment to be presented to the North Carolina Medicaid program by billing for medically unnecessary dental services performed on indigent children.

The United States and the state of North Carolina alleged that MDC and its ownership, including Michael A. DeRose, DDS, P.A., and Letitia L. Ballance, DDS, were liable under the False Claims Act for submitting claims for reimbursement for performing pulpotomies that were not medically necessary. Pulpotomies are considered medically necessary in pediatric dental cases when an infection in a tooth spreads into the pulp chamber of the tooth, requiring the pulp's removal. This procedure is often referred to as a "baby root canal."

MDC and its ownership also were alleged to have submitted claims for reimbursement for placing stainless steel crowns that were not medically necessary and for failing to obtain informed consent for all medical procedures and services. The settlement is limited to claims submitted to the North Carolina Medicaid program and does not involve any other states.

"These dentists subjected their child patients to invasive and sometimes painful procedures, often for the sake of obtaining money from the North Carolina Medicaid program," said Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, the acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department's Civil Division.

Both Dr. DeRose and Dr. Ballance have been disciplined by the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners. Both entered into consent orders with the Board on Dece
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice
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