Dentists at UConn Health (UCH), including now-retired Ravindra Nanda, engaged in irregular discretionary billing practices for other UConn Health staff members, according to documents provided to the Daily Campus by an anonymous source close to the issue.
A 2008 Internal Audit revealed that several UCH employees had missing charges, according to an investigation report from the Office of Institutional Equity.
“It was acknowledged that [university dentists] have not been expected to follow all the policies, procedures and standard fee schedules that are required by the Clinic. It was known that faculty have not billed patients in a consistent way in that fee schedules and billing are more flexible for some UCHC employees,” the report reads.
The State Code of Ethics states that professional courtesies or other discounts are not permitted based on one’s status as a UCH employee.
The report stemmed from an anonymous complaint that former UConn Health orthodontics professor Ravindra Nanda, who was recently accused of making disparaging remarks to Arab and Muslim resident dentists, provided discounted treatment for children of UConn Health staff members.
The report shows that Nanda engaged in irregular billing practices with regard to patients whose parents were UConn Health staff. The faculty practice, called University Dentists, was run as if it were a private practice, in that practitioners were given more discretion to establish fees in their contracts with patients, according to the report.
The 2009 investigation determined that charges had not been entered for two patients who were the children of a university staff member. Nanda claimed the charges would be input correctly once a contract was finalized and signed, according to the report.
The investigators received a printout from the Q-R billing system on June 30. The printout showed that two charges had been entered for the patients.
John Brigada, the director of Finance and administration in the school of dental medicine, said that when he had looked into the system, these charges were not there. It was then discovered that Nanda had put the charges in two days after Brigada initially asked about them.
At the time Nanda put the charges into the system, no contract had been signed yet, contrary to normal practice. Nanda said the parent of the two children receiving treatment was scheduled to come in and sign the contracts and thought it was appropriate under the circumstances to put the charges into the system at that time.
The investigators also learned that the required insurance information and HIPAA disclosures for the patients had not been filed as is customary.
Nanda said there was never any agreement that the family would receive free services. The family member, whose name was redacted from the document, confirmed this statement. However, the report states that Nanda, “insisted that he had (and should have) discretion in setting fees in his University Dentist practice.”
The findings of the investigation prompted the development of a formal policy regarding fee schedules and billing of all University Dentists patients, including UCH employees. Also, as a result of the investigation, all practitioners would be notified that the policy was being developed and that they must stop exercising discretion in setting fees for patients immediately, according to the report.