INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indianapolis dentist accused of fraudulently overbilling Medicaid has admitted to what he called an “error” and agreed to pay back more than $63,000 in Medicaid reimbursements he should not have received, according to a settlement agreement reached with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.
Dr. Shadrach Gonqueh, who was at the center of an I-Team 8 investigation into alleged overbilling and overtreatment of his patients, accepted a settlement during a hearing Friday before the Indiana board of dentistry.
“I take full responsibility for that. What happened here is a situation where I should have known so I want to stress that,” Gonqueh said. “I cannot pass the buck onto someone else. Everything that goes on in my office ultimately is on my shoulders.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Gonqueh has agreed to pay back the Medicaid reimbursement funds totaling $63,410.32 in addition to a $4,000 fine. He’ll also have to undergo monitoring by another dentist, Dr. William Russell Neal, who if approved by the board, would be required to conduct quarterly reviews of no fewer than 20 patient files and Gonqueh’s Medicaid billing records.
Gonqueh was accused of overbilling Medicaid on procedures he performed on 158 patients over the course of two years, according to the state’s licensing complaint.
“I take full responsibility for that. That was an error on my part,” Gonqueh said.
When asked by the board if he intended to continue to treat Medicaid patients, he said: “Yes.”
“With God above that I serve as my witness, this isn’t something I set out to do. And to say it will never happen again is an understatement,” Dr. Gonqueh told the panel.
In March, the Indiana Attorney’s General’s Office had filed a licensing complaint against Gonqueh accusing him of overbilling and overtreating his patients. As part of the settlement agreement, deputy attorney general Jessica Krug said her office dropped the overtreatment accusation after an expert reviewed patient records and determined the treatments were “appropriate and safe.”
The expert was not identified in the settlement agreement, but board members questioned whether more than one had been sought. Two board members who were privy to the settlement negotiations said they did not review Gonqueh’s patients’ x-rays.
An I-Team 8 investigation found three separate lawsuits have been filed against Dr. Gonqueh, accusing him of performing unnecessary procedures. Among those who filed suit was Kyong Farsnley, a mother who said Dr. Gonqueh ripped out all her bottom teeth during a visit to his Indianapolis office, Amazing Family Dental. Gonqueh was also one of 95 Indiana dentists flagged by the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. The federal probe identified dentists with questionable billing practices. Indiana’s Medicaid director, Joe Moser, previously told I-Team 8 that some of the dentists had been cleared, but refused to identify them.
During an interview with I-Team 8 Farnsley said she was surprised during her office visit with Gonqueh that he wanted to remove 15 of her teeth.
“He said the infection was so bad, that if I didn’t pulled out, I could walk out and have a heart attack and die. And I never heard that before,” Farnsley said.
Farnsley’s lawsuit was not a part of Friday’s hearing, but the settlement agreement stipulates that the attorney general’s office will stop its review of any and all consumer complaints against Gonqueh that were filed before March of this year.
The settlement should not affect outside civil lawsuits, according to Molly Gillaspie, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.
Gonqueh refused to answer I-Team 8’s questions after Friday’s hearing.
His attorney, Peter Pogue, said that: “This is an unfortunate but honest mistake and billing and coding and Dr. Gonqueh and ready to comply and move forward.”
When pressed about Gonqueh’s relationship with his self-chosen monitor, Dr. William Neal, Pogue said that Neal was a professor at the IU School of Dentistry but declined to answer further questions.
A message left for Dr. Neal was not returned Friday.