AG Healey Sues Lawrence Orthodontist Over Alleged Medicaid Fraud

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A Lawrence orthodontist is being sued by the state Attorney General's office for alleged Medicaid fraud that dates back to as early as November of 2013.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is accusing Dr. Mouhab Z. Rizkallah of using his young patients as pawns over the years to collect millions of dollars in false claims to MassHealth, the state's Medicaid program for low income and disabled residents.

According to a press release, Dr. Rizkallah allegedly put braces only on a patient's top teeth at the beginning of "comprehensive orthodontic treatment," -- even if there was no medical basis for delaying putting braces on the bottom teeth as well. The office alleges this practice extended the treatment time and increased the amount of funds collected from MassHealth.

"Imagine these poor young kids, right?" Healey said. "Who were forced to have braces, wear braces that they didn't need for a lot longer than those who [needed them], its really pretty outrageous."

Healey added that Dr. Rizkallah also allegedly billed the healthcare system for "custom fitted sports mouth guards," even though those products are typically sold in retail stores for around nine or ten dollars. She claims he would tell his staff to cut the price tags off the mouth guards before giving it to the patients.

The suit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court against Dr. Rizkallah and two companies -- Dr. Mouhab Z. Rizkallah DDS MSD PC and The Braces Place of Lawrence LLC -- which collectively include six orthodontic practices in the Commonwealth in Somerville, Boston, Lawrence, Lowell, Framingham and Lynn.

It argues that the practices in question violated the state's False Claims Act and the Massachusetts Medicaid False Claims Act, seeking treble damages and civil penalties.

"It's really important these state Medicaid funds -- these funds that are there to provide care payment for services for low income individuals, people with disabilities --- are going to providers who are actually providing those services," Healey said. "Not to those who are looking to make money by falsely billing for services that weren't neccessary."

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.

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Written by Rachel Armany

(Photo: Getty Images)

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