Dr. David Morrow ran a plastic surgery center in Southern California that billed insurers for millions of dollars in false claims. He said the surgeries were medically necessary, but they weren’t.
In March of 2016, Morrow pleaded guilty to insurance fraud.
In May of this year, he was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
Three days ago, the State Medical Board in California finally got around to yanking Morrow’s license.
Medical boards have been criticized for not being the best partners in combating fraud. Too many seem more interested in protecting medical professionals than helping to rid the profession of fraudsters.
Waiting more than a year and a half after a licensee was convicted of felony fraud in federal court seems like a long time to act. We don’t know if Morrow continued to see patients and bill insurers after his conviction, but apparently he could have.
Most medical boards are under-staffed and under-funded, and that may come into play here. But it’s discouraging to see insurers, investigators and prosecutors do their jobs diligently and then have medical boards take such a cavalier attitude in helping to combat fraud.
Perhaps a more important consideration is that medical providers who cut corners in their business operations often are the ones who give short shrift to patient care. Medical boards owe duty of prompt action to protect the public safety. Morrow botched surgeries. Keeping people safe and criminal providers off the streets should be a priority.
Dennis Jay is executive director of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.