The recent decision by a Travis County District Court judge that again vindicated Antoine Dental Center of Houston on allegations of Medicaid fraud and vacated a three-year “credible allegation of fraud” payment hold has been appealed by the Civil Medicaid Fraud division of the Office of Attorney General. A copy can be downloaded here – Notice of Appeal.
The Civil Medicaid Fraud division pursues cases on behalf of whistleblowers and their allegations against Medicaid providers.
Second court to vindicate Antoine
Antoine had a four-day hearing back in May of 2013 before two administrative law judges from the State Office of Administrative Hearings who also found the state’s case lacking in evidence and overturned the payment hold.
But with all the arrogance due a state agency, former Health and Human Services Commission Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek and his Appeals court overturned the administrative law decision until the recent judgment by Travis County District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum.
Lawyers from OAG have been forefront
Although the case against Antoine Dental was initially brought by the HHSC Office of Inspector General, it was lawyers from the Civil Medicaid fraud unit that prosecuted the case from the beginning at SOAH.
Hired whistleblower lawyers for SOAH hearing at a cost of $250,000
The OAG approved the hiring of whistleblower lawyers Jim Moriarty of Houston and Dan Hargrove from Waters and Kraus in Dallas at a cost of $250,000 to taxpayers to be the lead attornies in the SOAH case.
Despite overwhelmingly losing the case, Moriarty told the Texas Tribune:
“The wrongdoing is there, the corruption is there, and the question is just how you go about proving it.”
Lawyers crowed when decision overturned by HHSC but practice shut down by Texas legislature
When HHSC Appeals Court judge Rick Gilpin initially vacated the SOAH decision which Janek’s later ruling affirmed, Moriarty was quoted in a Waters & Kraus press release which crowed about the Gilpin decision.
Referencing the SOAH judges, he said:
“[The administrative law judge] badly missed the boat. This is a game-changer.”
Gilpin and Janek’s ruling was such an unfair and ridiculous “game-changer” that the Texas legislature ended the practice of allowing HHSC to overturn SOAH proposals for decision in SB 207, which just came into force September 1st.
More taxpayer money down the drain
With lawmakers having cut back on physical therapy and other needed Medicaid services for lack of funds, there seems to be no lack of funds when it comes to continuing to prosecute questionable cases regarding Medicaid providers.
Considering that two impartial courts have found in Antoine’s favor, how are the taxpayers of Texas being served by this appeal?