Dentist charged with Medicaid fraud

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story published Saturday in The Tampa Tribune.

SPRING HILL — A Spring Hill dentist is charged with Medicaid fraud and accused of finding cavities in a child when none existed and pulling healthy teeth to sell patients dentures in order to obtain higher Medicaid payments.

The attorney general’s Medicaid fraud unit and Pasco County sheriff’s deputies arrested Miranda Smith on charges of Medicaid provider fraud.

Smith, owner of Smiles and Giggles Dentistry for Children and Adults in Spring Hill, is accused of billing Florida’s Medicaid program more than $140,000 in dental services that were either unauthorized or not provided, authorities said.

The Medicaid fraud unit received complaints about suspicious billing from parents and patients. Smith billed Medicaid for X-rays, anesthesia and other dental procedures that were not performed, according to investigators.

Former patients told authorities that Smith’s employees provided dental care, though they were not licensed dentists, according to a news release.

Authorities said a parent was told her child had eight cavities and would need to be sedated to perform urgent dental work. The parent received a second opinion from a dentist who found the child had no cavities, the release stated.

Investigators also said Smith and her staff “exhibited a pattern of pulling healthy teeth in an effort to sell patients dentures and make larger Medicaid claims,” the release said.

Smith is charged with two counts of Medicaid fraud. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

The Florida Department of Health’s Board of Dentistry voted last week to suspend her license. The suspension will become final within a few days, the news release stated.