MT Medicaid Fraud Probe Snares “Egg-as-Person” Leader


The primary care physician leading the
"personhood" ballot measure campaign in Montana is under multiple
investigations for Medicaid fraud.

In a one-sided news story
published in the Daily Inter Lake, Dr.
Ann Bukacek confirmed that state and federal investigators launched the probe
after allegations were raised about the Kalispell, Mont., doctor’s billing
practices and related complaints that she submitted Medicaid reimbursements for
time spent praying with patients.

Bukacek told the newspaper that fraud investigators asked "How much time we spend on it, how
we decide how to pray, how we pray with non-Christians."

She blames a disgruntled former employee for the most recent
investigation which marks a string of four earlier inquiries that began in
April over other unspecified complaints about billing issues. State and federal
authorities declined to comment or even verify the existence of the probes.

Bukacek is no stranger to controversy — the seriousness of
the current charges aside.

She is president of the Montana ProLife Coalition which is
again fronting the state’s "personhood" amendment to codify
constitutional rights for fertilized eggs. Their first attempt in 2008 failed
to qualify enough petition signatures to make the ballot. The group has also
agitated for conservatively-allied state lawmakers to sponsor
"personhood" amendments and repeal privacy clauses related to
abortion care. Though the measures passed the state Senate they were ultimately
defeated in the House.

Bukacek also claims to be on the steering committee of the
anti-health reform astroturf group, Coalition to
Protect Patient Rights
, that is managed by the Washington, D.C.,
lobbyist firm the DCI Group, best known for its pro-tobacco smokers’ rights
campaigns.

Though her leadership in CPPR could not be confirmed by
independent sources, Bukacek’s husband Roland Horst
appeared in a video
for the fake grassroots organization. Horst was
billed as a "medical billing specialist and massage therapist."

Bukacek’s well-established conservative religious beliefs
and opposition to federal health care reform, which she derides as
"Obamacare," are regularly splashed in newspaper guest editorials and
a seemingly endless stream of letters to the editor.

Planted in the Nov. 8 Daily
Inter Lake
story are unsubstantiated allegations by unnamed anti-choice
advocates that Bukacek is being targeted because she is an outspoken advocate
for right wing political views.

However, a less sinister reason may come from another Daily Inter Lake sop story printed March 2 that notes a previous
professional dispute over her inappropriate conduct with patients:

Bukacek spent five years at Kalispell
Diagnostic Service but was told she’d have to stop praying with patients or
leave the physician group. She wouldn’t compromise her faith, so she broke away
and began her own practice.

From a practical standpoint, many cash-strapped states are
redoubling their efforts to sniff out Medicaid fraud. Unlike Medicare, the
federal health care entitlement program that covers people over the age of 65
and those with certain disabilities, Medicaid is a joint state-federal funded
program for low-income people.

The Montana Medicaid fraud unit
has recovered $7.8 million
since 1993 from convictions for improper
billing, false claims and illegal kickbacks paid to physicians by medical
device and pharmaceutical companies.

If Bukacek is charged and eventually convicted of Medicaid
fraud, she could face up to 10 years in state
prison and a fine not to exceed $50,000
.

Ironically, an amendment to the
Senate health care reform bill
under debate this week aims to
strengthen Medicaid and Medicare fraud enforcement. The very bill Bukacek
dismisses as unnecessary government interference. 

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  • crowepps

    Ironically, an amendment to the Senate health care reform bill under debate this week aims to strengthen Medicaid and Medicare fraud enforcement. The very bill Bukacek dismisses as unnecessary government interference.

    Well, it’s sure obvious why she’s against that!

  • wendy-norris

    Heh. Sometimes these stories just write themselves. ;)

  • montanahome

    The two comments so far from government lovers and the whole issue are prime examples why we need to oppose government health care.

    When they get concerned about a Doctor praying with her/his clients you know who they are targeting.

    The medicare and madicaid bankrupt systems are more evidence of the failure of government.

    Norris is of the ilk that Government will fix anything when history and facts prove that what they do always fails. The only exception is the military defense of our nation’s freedom and actually that is one of the few purposes of the Federal Government.

    No where did the Founders say that they should force people to have insurance or they go to jail.

  • crowepps

    I didn’t see anything in the article that implies that anybody is concerned about this doctor "praying with her clients".  Instead, there was a lot of concern about the taxpayers being asked to pay for her to do that as though it were actually ‘health care’.  If she wants to get paid for praying with people, it would be more appropriate for her to become a minister.

  • unbiased

    Perhaps a little insight into the "fraud investigators" of Montana would be beneficial. Let it be known that just over 5 years ago, I worked in this same community, Kalispell, as a nurse for an agency whose owner and manager was committing massive Medicaid fraud. I dutifully reported this to the program officer for that region, in Kalispell, and I was told, "…I wish this was something new, but unfortunately it is very common…what is it you want me to do?" As I handed over some of the evidence I had with me for that meeting, I saw him reluctantly take it in his hand without even looking at the names on the list, and I knew he would not investigate this matter. To this date, he has not investigated this fraud and you want me to believe that Medicaid oversight specialists in Montana, particularly Kalispell are concerned about fraud ? Not in the least. They are antagonistically pursuing Dr. Ann Bukacek because of her antiliberal stance on issues and there is no other reason. I personally have prayed with Dr. Bukacek myself, and I can tell you that her prayers last at the most 30 seconds. Let’s get on with the issues of life. This further waste of taxpayer money, in addition to the Medicaid oversight officer’s salaries, is not one of those issues, as they have proven to me that they will not pursue an investigation of fraud unless it is to antagnoize the candidate of their choice.

  • ahunt

    Not in the least. They are antagonistically pursuing Dr. Ann Bukacek
    because of her antiliberal stance on issues and there is no other
    reason. I personally have prayed with Dr. Bukacek myself, and I can
    tell you that her prayers last at the most 30 seconds. Let’s get on
    with the issues of life. This further waste of taxpayer money, in
    addition to the Medicaid oversight officers salaries, is not one of
    those issues as they have proven to me that they will not pursue an
    investigation of fraud unless it is to antagnoize the candidate of
    their choice.

     

    You cannot be serious. Are you suggesting that states should NOT pursue those practitioners engaged in Medicaid fraud? Moreover, are you suggesting that the monies recovered since 1993 are the end product of political witch hunts? Any evidence?

  • unbiased

    Did I say that states should NOT pursue practitioners engaged in Medicaid fraud? ..apparently you did not read my experience with the State of Montana where I DID in fact report fraud and they REFUSED to investigate it…in addition, this investigator who failed to do his job was a very outspoken critic of Ann Bukacek for no other reason than because she was an advocate for the rights of the unborn. I rest my case. If fraud is to be investigated, then ALL reports of fraud should be investigated. This is not the case. I suggest we not pronounce someone guilty while the facts are yet to be known.

  • colleen

     Did I say that states should NOT pursue practitioners engaged in Medicaid fraud?

     You certainly implied that creepy right wing Doctors who charge medicaid for their prayers should get a free pass from any investigation.Perhaps the investigator you spoke to suspected a certain bias on your part.  

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    They are antagonistically pursuing Dr. Ann Bukacek because of her antiliberal stance on issues and there is no other reason. I personally have prayed with Dr. Bukacek myself, and I can tell you that her prayers last at the most 30 seconds.

    Doesn’t the fact that the prayers are short make it even more outrageous that she is charging Medicare for them?  I mean, really, there are lots of people out there who are willing to pray with people absolutely for free.