The allegations state health regulators leveled against Rachel Trueblood two years ago were dramatic: The Austin dentist had billed the government for millions of dollars in unnecessary procedures and office time, they said.
Regulators froze $100,000 of outstanding Medicaid payments to Trueblood and demanded she repay the government $16.2 million. Within weeks, she closed her four Austin-area offices.
Late last week, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General quietly settled its case against Trueblood. Instead of collecting $16 million, the agency agreed to a one-time payment of $39,000 — about a quarter of 1 percent of its original claim.
The deal represents the latest underwhelming outcome for state regulators who say they have identified hundreds of millions of dollars in dental and orthodontic fraud between 2007 and 2012, yet have struggled to produce decisive legal victories. In addition to the modest amount of money collected, the vast majority of the practitioners accused by the agency can still participate in Medicaid. Statewide, the inspector general has yet to win a Medicaid dental fraud finding.