California’s Attorney General, Rob Bonta, announced the state will receive a nearly $500,000 settlement after an L.A.-based plastic surgeon was accused of defrauding Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid health care program., of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Dr. Joel Aronowitz allegedly overbilled Medi-Cal recipients for skin grafts and skin wound treatments for more than six years, specifically between 2015 and 2021. The alleged crime cost the program $ 248,809 and under the settlement, Aronowitz will pay $497,619 to the state, a news release said.
“The Medi-Cal system is a lifeline that provides access to free or affordable healthcare services for millions of Californians,” Attorney General Bonta said in a statement.
“When bad actors abuse or defraud it, they drain away funds meant to help people with limited income and resources get the healthcare they need. Let this settlement serve as a warning: The California Department of Justice will not tolerate Medi-Cal fraud — we will bring back every cent stolen from hardworking taxpayers and hold bad actors accountable.”
Aronowitz ran the Tower Wound Care Center of Santa Monica, Inc, which provided wound care services to Medi-Care patients in the L.A. area.
Investigators found evidence that Aronowitz illegally inflated Medicare and Medi-Cal reimbursements by billing Medi-Cal patients’ wound care procedures as if they took place at third-party facilities when the procedures actually took place at his medical office.
The doctor allegedly reused unused portions of “single-use” skin substitute products during procedures but billed Medicare as if the products were new and unopen.
These alleged events violated California’s False Claims Act, according to a news release.