The insurance industry's fight against medical fraud widened
Thursday as Woodland Hills-based 20th Century Industries sued a Glendale
chiropractor and his clinic for $8 million.
Friday, January 8, 1999
Utilizing a California Law, 20th Century Sues Chiropractor
By LIZ PULLIAM, Times Staff Writer
The auto insurer accused David E. Neff and his Jackson Chiropractic
Clinic, formerly called Harvard Chiropractic Clinic, of overbilling,
billing for treatments that weren't provided and submitting fraudulent
medical reports to 20th Century. The claims were mostly for victims of
rear-end auto accidents, said John A. Marder, one of the attorneys
representing 20th Century.
Neff did not return calls for comment.
20th Century is among a number of insurers using a California law
allowing them to sue doctors and others for insurance fraud. Allstate
Corp. was the first. Allstate's initial lawsuit, against doctors and
lawyers accused of faking accidents, was settled in 1997, although the
terms were not disclosed. Allstate filed three more fraud lawsuits last
year against Southland doctors, clinics and their staffs asking for a
total of $165 million in damages.
* * * Quackenbush Sued: Two consumer advocacy groups sued Insurance
Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush this week for allegedly failing to enforce
laws regulating the sale of long-term care insurance. The state
Department of Insurance said the lawsuit was misguided and that the
advocates, Santa Monica-based Consumers for Quality Care and
Sacramento-based Congress of California Seniors, had misinterpreted the
The groups accuse Quackenbush of ignoring legislation that requires
greater oversight and regulation for insurance companies and agents that
sell long-term care policies. Such policies are designed to pay for
nursing home and other care that is typically not covered by Medicare or
other private health insurance.
Among other charges, the groups say Quackenbush has not created
suitability standards to determine when policies have been
inappropriately replaced; that he has not required insurers to report the
number of claims denied; and that he has not required insurers to reveal
which agents may be "'churning," or repeatedly switching policies to earn
"If the long-term-care market is not properly structured, then the
taxpayer is saddled with the cost of long-term care," said Jamie Court, a
spokesman for Consumers for Quality Care.
* * * Just Charge It: Californians with past-due state income tax bills may
be able to pay by credit card under a pilot program announced Thursday by
the Franchise Tax Board.
About 1 million taxpayers who haven't paid their 1997 or earlier taxes
or who were assessed additional taxes during an audit will be sent
notices over the next six months informing them about the new credit card
option, said FTB spokeswoman Denise Azimi. Most major credit cards will
be accepted. Credit card users will be assessed a convenience fee based
on the size of their payment; the state expects the average fee to be
The state does not accept plastic for current tax bills. That may
change if the pilot program is successful, Azimi said. The Internal
Revenue Service, by contrast, this month started allowing credit cards to
be used for federal tax payments.
Taxpayers who don't want to put their past-due bills on a credit card
still have the option of working out a payment plan with the state. The
FTB charges an 8% annual interest rate, compared with credit card rates
that typically run 14% to 17%. For more information, taxpayers may call
(800) 338-0505 or visit http://www.ftb.ca.gov.
* * * Liz Pulliam can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved
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