A Richmond acupuncturist is being ordered to repay the province's Medical Services Plan $1.5 million for treatments health ministry officials allege he never provided patients.
Stephen May, a spokesperson for B.C.'s Ministry of Health, told the Richmond News that Dr. Mubai Qiu, who operated Mu Bai Enterprise Corp. on Odlin Cresc., could also face criminal charges after an audit by the MSP's Billing Integrity Program showed Qiu had bilked the system out of $1,579,433.
"There are options that are open to us. We are looking at all of them," May said.
Qiu's activities came to the attention of the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of B.C. earlier this year after he claimed to have treated more than 461 patients in a single day at his small clinic.
In early September, the college released its reasons for suspending him, stating he failed to maintain adequate clinical records to document patient history, and engaged in excessive mis-billing with insufficient evidence to support that acupuncture services were provided to patients covered by MSP and private insurers.
The college is expected to issue penalties in the coming weeks that could see Qiu struck off its list.
This is not the first time Qiu has been ordered to repay costs. He had already been charged with overbilling for about $600,000, but reached an agreement with the ministry to repay just $100,000.
Why he was granted that discount, May said he did not have details for an explanation.
This time around, though, the government is seeking full re-payment, which is to include a five per cent surcharge and compounded interest.
As for how likely the cash-strapped B.C. medical system will see that money, May said chances are quite good, based on historical accounts.
"Since 2004, we have had 105 practitioners ordered to reimburse the program for a total of $8.8 million," he said. "And at this point, the ministry has recovered $7.7 million." How soon the re-payment process can get rolling is yet to be determined, given the fact the allegations of overbilling have yet to be proven in court, but are based on the ministry's audits of the acupuncture clinic's operations.
"It depends," May said. "It can be a slow process, because we are talking about fair hearings for people. But this is being worked on."
Qiu did not attend any of the college's hearings on his case and is believed to still be in the country.
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