An orthodontist who operates a dental practice on Dorchester Avenue has been hit with a lawsuit by the state’s attorney general that claims he has been purposely “keeping children in braces for longer than medically necessary and deceptively billing for mouth guards.”
The target of the lawsuit filed today by Maura Healey’s office alleges that Dr. Mouhab Z. Rizkallah has been defrauding MassHealth since Nov. 2013, and it is suing to get back “treble damages and civil penalties.”
Rizkallah works out of six locations in Massachusetts, including “The Braces Place” at 1792 Dot Ave., which was previously called “Orthodontics at Ashmont Station.” Healey said that her office was tipped off to the alleged fraud after a patient complained about Rizkallah.
“For years, this orthodontist used his young patients as pawns to steal millions of dollars from the state,” Healey said in a statement. “This illegal behavior harmed families from low-income communities and communities of color who rely on MassHealth for health care coverage. We are suing to hold Dr. Rizkallah accountable for these exploitative practices that victimized vulnerable residents in Massachusetts.”
The complaint alleges specifically that Dr. Rizkallah developed policies for MassHealth patients, mostly children, that “significantly extended the patient’s treatment time and increased the amount of money collected from MassHealth.” Healey’s investigators also claim that Rizkallah’s MassHealth patients were given cheap mouth guards bought at a discount from stores that were either unnecessary or not custom-fitted, even though his office claimed they were.
“Dr. Rizkallah allegedly instructed his staff to cut the price off the packaging before giving it to the patient,” the complaint claims. He “billed MassHealth between $85 and $95 for each mouth guard.” During this time, the AG’s Office alleges that MassHealth paid Dr. Rizkallah’s orthodontic practices “more than $1 million for these mouth guards.”