This summer, state regulators settled a Medicaid fraud case against an Austin dentist for literally pennies on the dollar. Although the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General had initially accused Rachel Trueblood of bilking the government out of $16.2 million in unnecessary procedures and other improper charges, the agency quietly agreed to a one-time payment of only a quarter of 1 percent of that — $39,000. Trueblood admitted no fault.
At the time, an agency spokeswoman attributed the low figure to Trueblood shuttering her dental practice, making it unlikely the government could recover any more money — even though she had opened another thriving office just miles away. “You can’t get blood from a turnip,” the spokeswoman, Stephanie Goodman, said.