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December 19, 2008
House-calling denturist charged with cheating Medicaid patients

One patient complains about “George Washington Teeth” that didn’t fit

OLYMPIA—When Phyllis Wicks moved to Redmond, she was happy to find a denturist who makes house calls. Wicks, a senior in her mid-80s, has difficultly getting around. But state investigators say that after billing a taxpayer-funded public health program for nearly $2,000, the denturist then delivered what Wicks describes as poorly fitting “George Washington teeth.”

According to charges filed this week by Assistant Attorney General Andrea Jarmon, the denturist defrauded the state’s Medicaid program by billing for false teeth that were never provided to five clients across King, Clallam, and Snohomish Counties. Nelda Hyatt’s in-home dental service is licensed in Redmond and operates out of her residence. Nelda Hyatt operated out of offices in Redmond, Carnation, and North Bend.  In addition, she worked out of a mobile unit.

Wicks says she suffered for years because Hyatt never returned with a working replacement and the state’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) would not authorize a new set because records showed a completed sale.

An inquiry conducted by Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigator Bill Lemp reveals that on several occasions Hyatt billed Medicaid for services that were never requested. In one case, while on a social visit, Hyatt performed a spur-of-the-moment visual exam for a friend’s daughter. The Medicaid recipient, an Everett resident, was surprised to learn that the health program for low-income patients was billed for services never requested and for dentures that were never delivered.

Records also show that in October 2003, Hyatt contracted to provide dental services for residents of the Hoh Indian Nation. But after carrying out exams of two members of the Clallam County tribe, Hyatt never returned with the requested dentures. Still, she billed Medicaid for both the exams and for the dentures.

Hyatt will be arraigned in Thurston County Superior Court on Dec. 30, 2008.

The Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of fraud committed by Medicaid providers. In addition, the unit coordinates with local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect involving vulnerable adults residing in Medicaid-funded facilities.



Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725

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