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Nothing to smile at

crying boyInsuranceFraud.org has chronicled the growing practice by scam artists of using kids in fraud schemes, such as the woman from Virginia who staged car crashes with her three young ones in the back seat. The latest case to surface involves systematic corporate greed, using low-income families to rip off Medicaid.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a $24 million settlement today with Forba Dental Management which operates Small Smiles clinics in 22 states. Forba is accused of pressuring its clinic managers to perform needless and mostly painful procedures on kids. Local tv news reports show gruesome images of very young children being strapped down and undergoing root canals and other serious dental work. Teeth are pulled needlessly, according to reports. Kids are left traumatized and in some cases, damaged for life.

Forba has the gall to post its “pledge” to parents on its slick website that includes such things as “We will work tirelessly to ensure that every child receives the best dental care provided with compassion and kindness.” Right.

Civil settlements like these help to punish corporations that defraud, and hopefully send a clear message of deterrence.

However, I wish someone from the Justice Department would explain why no one from Forba is going to jail. These crimes are extreme and ruthless. Sorry, but a civil settlement here doesn’t fit this crime. And one other thing: Go watch the videos on this news site and think about looking these kids in the eyes and telling them that since the government is a few million dollars richer, everything’s alright.

Update – 1/28/10: Individual dentists are being investigated for possible criminal sanctions, Attorney General Eric Holder mentioned during the National Heath Care Summit this morning. FraudBlog will continue to monitor this case.

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