A chiropractor who owns and operates four clinics in southwest Michigan faces a hearing Friday on two felony charges for allegedly receiving illegal Medicaid reimbursements for two products he prescribed to low-income patients.
Ahad Lotfi, 53, of Lawton, Mich., west of Kalamazoo, has been charged with two counts of Medicaid-Fraud — False Claim, following a computer analysis of his offices’ invoices for the two products — “custom-made shoe inserts and therapeutic pillows,” according to a news release from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office.
“The Medicaid program allegedly paid Lotfi nearly $200,000 over two years” as a result of (improperly) billing, the release said.
The charges surprised former state Rep. Mike Callton, a chiropractor whose office is north of Kalamazoo.
“I do have therapeutic pillows and I do have shoe inserts in my office right now and if I prescribe them, my patients pay for them,” Callton said. However, if Callton’s office staff tried to submit such charges to Medicaid, “we’d get rejected – we wouldn’t get paid,” he said.
“I don’t understand why Medicaid paid him in the first place. This seems like a billing issue, not a malpractice or a criminal issue,” Callton added.
Neither Lotfi nor his attorney Brian Morley, who heads a Lansing law firm, returned phone calls this week.
Although medical doctors may bill Medicaid for the products and other medical supplies, in Michigan “chiropractors are not eligible to bill medical supplies,” said Andrea Bitely, spokeswoman for Schuette. According to Schuette’s news release, each charge is a four-year felony.
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“The Michigan Medicaid program exists to pay health care costs for eligible Michiganders, not function as a cash cow for unscrupulous providers,” Schuette said in the news release from his office. The release went on to say that “Schuette’s Health Care Fraud Division used new techniques involving data mining to identify a stark change in established billing patterns” in the Medicaid paperwork for Lotfi’s patients.
Data mining is the term used for computer searches of vast databases to detect trends or patterns of interest to investigators.
Lotfi was arraigned last week in 54B District Court in East Lansing and was freed on a $20,000 personal recognizance bond. He has offices in the small southwest Michigan towns of Hartford, Paw Paw, Bangor and South Haven, according to his clinics’ website listings.
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