Two Massachusetts doctors allegedly charged hundreds of patients seeking opiate addiction treatment cash fees when their care should have been covered by the state’s Medicaid program. Now, they’ve agreed to pay a combined $445,720 in penalty and restitution fees, according to the state Attorney General’s office.
Dr. Joshua Golden and Dr. Masoud Shahidi each required low-income patients who were covered by MassHealth to pay fees to receive Suboxone, a drug used to combat opiate addiction by suppressing withdrawal and cravings, authorities said.
Doctors who accept MassHealth patients are required to accept the insurer’s payment as payment in full, and are not allowed to require additional payment from patients.
Dr. Golden is a psychiatrist who practices at United Health Associates locations in Sharon and Attleboro. He allegedly charged patients $250 in cash for an initial Suboxone treatment and an additional $100 for follow-up visits. He illegally collected $288,150 from patients since 2011, according to the AG’s office, and has agreed to pay back that amount as well as $75,000 in penalties.
Dr. Shahidi, a pediatrician who also treats addiction at Dedham Family Medical, P.C., allegedly charged more than 100 patients covered by MassHealth $95 for each Suboxone treatment. He has agreed to pay $57,570 in restitution to the patients as well as a $25,000 penalty fee to the state, according to the AG’s office.
Both doctors have agreed to post a sign at their office’s front desks stating that MassHealth members cannot be charged for receiving treatment, authorities said.
The AG’s office said it will contact MassHealth patients eligible to receive restitution payments from these settlements within the next few weeks.
“These doctors took advantage of low income patients struggling with addiction, forcing them to pay illegal fees for Suboxone services,’’ Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement Thursday. “My office is committed to eliminating obstacles to treatment for those in the throes of addiction.’’