Clinton doctor caught unfairly charging Medicaid patients

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The Iowa Board of Medicine says a Clinton doctor took money, to which he was not entitled, from Medicaid patients who were part of a special drug treatment program.

Dr. Oduah Osaro, M.D., who operated Clinton Urgent Care Clinic, was accused of unethical/unprofessional conduct and violating state law after he required certain patients to pay for services that would have been covered by Medicaid.

Osaro was one of about two dozen Iowa doctors authorized to administer suboxone to treat people withdrawing from heroin and some other drug addictions.   The state board of medicine said Osaro charged an upfront fee of $190 per office visit, regardless of insurance coverage, to all of his suboxone patients.

“If the Medicaid patients had been permitted to use their Medicaid benefits to pay for their office visits with (Osaro), their out-of-pocket cost would have been a co-payment of no more than $3 per visit, rather than $190,” according to documents from the Iowa Board of Medicine.  Medicaid would have reimbursed Osaro a maximum of about $100 for each office visit.

The state determined 30 Medicaid patients filed claims for more than 200 suboxone prescriptions from Osaro, but he did not submit office visit bills to Medicaid.

The board said Osaro defended his actions, saying patients were more compliant with treatment when they were required to pay in full for their services; and he was respecting the patients’ privacy by not submitting claims to Medicaid.  He also said requiring the same upfront payment ensured his suboxone patients would get equal treatment regardless of their insurance status, and that the $190 fee was less than what he would receive in Medicaid reimbursement.

In addition to revoking his ability to participate in the Medicaid and Medicare programs, the board issued a formal citation to Osaro and warned him that future violations could result in the loss of his license to practice medicine in Iowa.  Osaro was also ordered to pay a $2,500 penalty to the state.