Cuomo expands health care lending investigation

Keith Loria Aug. 10, 2010, 2:38pm


NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - In an expansion of last week's industry-wide probe on health care lending companies, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that he has subpoenaed more health care clinics and credit card companies.

Cuomo says he is looking into a health care credit card scheme that preys on seniors and vulnerable patients who are misled into bad financing options.

Cuomo alleges that some health care providers have been using deceptive methods and fast-talking sales pitches to convince customers to use health care credit cards such as Chase Health Advance, Citi Health and GE Money's CareCredit.

CareCredit allegedly also pays kickbacks in the form of rebates to the providers for any business they get charged on these cards, Cuomo alleges.

"Our ongoing investigation has uncovered conflicts of interest and predatory practices in the health care industry that are hurting New Yorkers and patients across the country," Cuomo said.

"Patients are being misled into paying for services they never received by the people they should be able to trust the most - their doctors. Doctors are supposed to represent patients, not credit card companies, no matter what kind of kickbacks they are offered."

Cuomo issued subpoenas to Allcare Dental Management, American Laser Centers, Aspen Dental Management, East Syracuse Family Dental Arts, Laser Cosmetica, Lifestyle Lift, Northern Lights Chiropractic, S & Y Diamond Dental P.C., Sunshine Dental, Toothsavers, Gentle Dentistry, Judd Lesser, DDS, Concerned Dental Care of Westchester P.C. and Bernie Fialkoff DDS, as well as to GE's CareCredit, Chase Health Advance and Citi Health Card.

Cuomo's subpoenas seek all marketing materials, applications, terms of credit, contracts and rebate agreements, policies and procedures, consumer complaints and regulatory inquiries.

Cuomo is also asking several nationwide and state-based medical associations about their role in endorsing CareCredit and whether or not they received compensation for doing so.

Of the groups allegedly endorsing CareCredit, letters were sent to the American College of Eye Surgeons, the Society for Excellence in Eyecare, the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, the American Academy of Periodontology, the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, the New York State Dental Association, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, the American Animal Hospital Association, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, the American Hearing Aid Associates, the American Society of Bariatric Physicians and Lite and Hope.

Currently, CareCredit is accepted by more than 125,000 health care practices nationwide for everything from chiropractic procedures to infertility treatments to veterinary services. The New York State Dental Association asserts that more than 8 million dental patients and 80,000 dental practices use CareCredit nationwide.

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