Boston Docs Fined For Scamming Patients Over Addiction Treatment

By Paul Gaita 11/23/15

Two doctors were charged with taking advantage of low-income patients using Suboxone.

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Two Boston-area doctors have agreed to pay more than $400,000 in penalty and restitution fees for charging hundreds of low-income patients cash fees for opioid addiction treatment that was already covered by MassHealth, the Massachusetts Medicaid program.

Investigations by the state Attorney General’s office revealed that Dr. Joshua Golden, a psychiatrist with United Health Practices, and Dr. Masoud Shahidi, who practices pediatric care at Dedham Family Medical P.C., required patients who were members of MassHealth to pay out-of-pocket fees for Suboxone treatment.

According to the AG report, Golden allegedly charged patients a $250 cash fee for an initial Suboxone treatment and $100 for each follow-up visit. Shahidi allegedly charged more than 100 MassHealth patients under his care $95 for each treatment. Golden collected more than $288,150 over a four-year period beginning in 2011, while Shahidi collected more than $57,000.

Both physicians are required to pay back those amounts, as well as penalties of $75,000 and $25,000, respectively. Medical professionals who treat MassHealth patients are required to accept the insurer’s payments as payment in full, and cannot require additional fees from patients.

The doctors have also been required to post a sign in their office that states that MassHealth members cannot be charged for receiving treatment. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy issued a statement: “These doctors took advantage of low-income patients struggling with addiction, forcing them to pay illegal fees for Suboxone services. My office is committed to eliminating obstacles to treatment for those in the throes of addiction.”

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.