Consumer Health Digest #08-33
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 26, 2008
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Pair arrested for recruiting homeless people as hospital patients. Rudra Sabaratnam, M.D., and Estill Mitts have been charged with healthcare fraud, money laundering, and income tax evasion in connection with a scheme to to defraud Medicare and Medi-Cal (California's Medicaid program). The indictment states:
- Sabaratnam owned and operated the City of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles.
- Mitts established a Skid Row assessment center in order to recruit homeless Medicare and Medi-Cal beneficiaries to receive unnecessary health services.
- These homeless persons were hospitalized in order to generate Medicare and Medi-Cal payments for unnecessary or non-existent health services.
- Mitts failed to report or pay federal income tax on money he received from Sabaratnam in 2005 and 2006.
Sabaratnam, Mitts, and several others involved in the alleged scheme have also been targeted by a civil suit brought by the City Attorney of Los Angeles. [Barrett S. Skid row patient-recruiting scheme uncovered. Quackwatch, Aug 26, 2008]
"Natural health coach" disciplined. James J. Mahoney, D.O., who refers to himself as "America's Natural Health Coach," has been disciplined by the Texas Board of Medicine. In 2007, the Texas Medical Board charged him with improperly managing the care of a 61-year-old woman. The Board's complaint stated that he did not evaluate her properly, did not keep adequate records, administered EDTA chelation therapy and several other treatments that had no therapeutic value, and failed to refer her elsewhere when her symptoms worsened. In 2008, the case was settled with a mediated agreed order requiring Mahoney to attend a remedial course in medical record-keeping and then have his charts monitored for six-months. Mahoney operates the Center for Hope and Healing in Southlake, Texas, where he offers many types of questionable treatments. He also operates a Web site that offers advice and recommends dietary supplements to "members" who complete a simplistic questionnaire. [Barrett S. LifeClick: Another test to avoid. Quackwatch, Aug 25, 2008]
More infections from raw milk reported. The Alexandre Family EcoDairy Farms has ended its raw milk program because several consumers became ill, including one woman who remains in intensive care and is partially paralyzed. Del Norte County health officials have documented three cases of Campylobacter infections since late June, and 12 others are awaiting confirmation. The company had a cow-share program in which people who bought stock in an Alexandre cow were able to purchase its unpasteurized milk. About 115 people were signed up, but the number of consumers was probably between 300 and 500. [Grube N. Illness halts raw milk program. The Daily Triplicate, Aug 16, 2008]
L.A. City Attorney launches insurance fraud Web site. Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has launched the Protecting the Insured Web site to collect information from consumers, doctors, and hospitals in an effort to aid its investigation of insurance companies that deny or delay authorization and payment of claims, cancel coverage altogether after initially issuing a policy, or engage in any other type of unfair or illegal activity to maximize profits.
This page was posted on August 26, 2008.