Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Things that Keep Me Up at Night: DAP/BH


Last updated 11/9/2023 at 2:19pm

I have so many questions about Borrego Community Health Foundation (BH) – what’s left of it – and DAP, the new owners, I don’t know where to start. The first and most pressing is: Why hasn’t the Attorney General indicted any of the 40 alleged criminals, including Borrego Health’s former officers, trustees, and contractors?

It’s been almost four years. These are the insiders sued by the Borrego Health Board of Trustees – the last board on record. Where, oh where, are you hiding Attorney General Robert Banta?

No one is allowed to speak to the press about the status. Really? One of the largest alleged frauds in the state, maybe nation, is languishing on Banta’s desk. Why no status reports? Just to be transparent, the idea that the Borrego Health’s package of alleged fraud is big, is not mine, but comes from national experts in health care crimes that have followed the story.

One wonders, at least in some of my unsubstantiated theories, if state employees were accessories to the fraud? And the Gov and AG don’t want to have to explain something like that away. At the very least, one can make a very good case against the state Dental Board: Specifically, for granting dental licenses to more that 15 dentists with sketchy backgrounds, including unfulfilled court orders, and records of treatment abuse and malpractice required by the board to consider before granting a license to hurt or help people in California.

One of these friendly fellows, contracted by Premier Healthcare Management, on Borrego’s behalf, loaded so many implants into an elderly woman’s mouth, he fractured her jaw. This particular dentist is being sued; and not for the rationale, “He was just a bit overzealous in his concern for his patient’s ability to chew.”

How can Borrego Health afford the lawsuits revolving around the alleged crimes against the state’s taxpayers and the people that they were licensed to care for? They are still in courts as plaintiffs and defendants since the Foundation has been sold and declared bankruptcy. Where is the money coming from since it is no longer operating and receiving income from Medi-Cal, Denti-Cal and Medicare?

At my last count, BH was being sued by five different entities, some were counter-suits, but just the same? BH is suing at least 40 people. No longer owners of the remaining 18 clinics, 10 mobile clinics and two--to become three pharmacies-- there is no income except what was left of the $50 million bankruptcy buyout by DAP. Or am I missing something?

At last count $20 million of that $50 million went to the State Department of Health Care services (DHCS), as a court agreed upon compromise for the $60 million that was owed the state, plus an undisclosed financial agreement with the Federal Health Departments for money owed. The facilities purchased by BH were taken over by DAP, which satisfied one concern of the Feds, regarding the bankruptcy approval. Wow, lucky DAP, lots of outdated equipment. The good stuff was already lifted.

Speaking of the courts, the current activity in the bankruptcy court is only about accepting or denying credit demands. It’s called a life or death lottery for small businesses. The other daily reports of the court are now 90 percent about approving attorney’s fees.

There are lawyers for the unsecured creditor; and for individual creditors, the court doesn’t pay them but they are busy little bees, looking to find a misplaced dollar here or there. Then, we have the Board of Trustees’ own attorneys; add to this, five or six firms representing Borrego Health, the Foundation and a variety of bankruptcy consultants. Name any letter of the alphabet, and there’s a firm with a corresponding moniker.

Most interesting to me are the attorneys hired to represent the board of trustees, and the contracting firm that visits the clinics on behalf of the court to make sure they continue to provide quality care during the bankruptcy process.

Without mentioning names, the folks keeping track of the patient quality of care during the bankruptcy, are very lazy or stupid. Every single operation got high marks for patients’ care, from treatment to administration, etc.

For one who has followed and reported on the rise and fall of BH, high marks for all aspects of health care are patently unbelievable. There are clinics without doctors; missing updated health equipment; clinics where alleged fraud is continuing. An example is, the instance of two highly paid doctors, specialists in HIV, padding the invoices to the state for services rendered, but not really rendered, at the Cathedral City Clinic.

Not to worry, the person alleging fraud and patient neglect has filed complaints in all the appropriate places, including with Borrego Health/DAP complaint department.

It’s with bated breath, I await a response from these ill-treated patients,’ well-documented complaints. With Borrego Health, patient complaints, or even doctor disclosures, have a habit of being misfiled or being tossed. Something learned from the Sun’s investigation.

We have suggested DAP to follow-up; maybe, make an example of the individuals (this is the second patient mistreatment complaint filed and prosecuted by the state for one of the doctors). Maybe, there’s some sort of “three counts you are out” policy in effect. No one knows because transparency doesn’t exist, except where the patient or victim brings their case to light. The problem is the victims don’t want to own the crime by sharing their actual identity, but want the paper to take on that legal minefield.

Doubtful, DAP with the administration appropriate for the size of one large clinic – referred to as the health center – can really get control of the bad habits and bad people, still operating in a free for all of greed and personal aggrandizement, still happening in 28 state- and federally-regulated clinics.

When the Sun asked the name and contact for the Federal government’s appointed regulator for Borrego Health there was no answer. The official response was, “No can talk, everybody sworn to silence – a gag order.” Why? I ask? “Well don’t cha know; we are involved in a legal investigation.” Duh?

The gags on information seem like keeping a protected harbor for suspects, as well as actual malfeasance, and neglect. It’s also possible some, who refuse to answer questions are also dipping into the taxpayer’s goodies, as in keeping silent in exchange for money. The individual with the special office was in Maryland, where the feds’ keep the overseers, disappeared after the FBI visited BH. A coincidence the Federal government will not own.

So many red flags. Borrego Health’s IRS-990 filing looked like a paper collage promoting a Fourth of July celebration. Even for an amateur at analyzing tax returns, the questionable filings were easy pickings.

A burning question: How are all the bankruptcy attorneys hired by Borrego Health getting paid? and what is the total dollar amount to-date of all that fodder for hungry attorneys?

I also question whether DAP is up to the job of ensuring or meeting the healthcare needs of Borrego Springs, let alone 27 other patient portals, better than Borrego Health? I want to be positive and supportive of DAP, but nagging little thoughts keep getting in the way.

Besides getting a clue to controlling fraud in the ranks, DAP needs to get beyond its “HIV/AIDs, and addiction related illnesses and treatment expertise and target patients,” in order to serve the young people at Borrego Elementary School that need nutrition, dental, and healthy living programs. How about the elderly populations, free of HIV or addictions, but whose health problems require sophisticated health management?

The myth continued by the Bankruptcy Court’s “patient quality observer,” that all the clinics, “Were right on it, exhibiting superior medical resources and services etc.,” is just that: a myth. And is DAP prepared to adequately staff each of the clinics, according to patient profiles, and patch up the mess that Bruce Hebets, Mikia Wallace, Dan Anderson and others left.

Another question that periodically bubbles up, but for which no one will answer to my satisfaction is? Why did the former chair of the Borrego Health Board of Trustees leave the board? Dan Anderson was pivotal to decisions during the disclosure and response to alleged criminal activity; before and after the FBI and DOJ raids.

He was the one who kept disclaiming the importance of the raids saying, “Nothing to see here, just a couple of bad dentists.”

REALLY? And he kept saying it, notably, counter to all the evidence, until the day he left the board. What were crimes in the state’s Department of Justice inquiry? The ones we know about are a large network of scams, money laundering, personal theft, and using the non-profit to benefit friends and family; and who knows what else? We don’t.

Word is, Anderson didn’t resign and the board did not remove him. Rather, someone at the top level of state criminal enforcement – recommended to the current board and Anderson, that he needed to leave the board. And he did. Leaving behind a million unanswered questions about his performance as a trustee and what alleged criminal activities might be lying at his feet.

Then there’s the chairwoman of Borrego Health’s Board of Trustees, who has remade her image to that of a newcomer to the Foundation’s legal issues. When in fact she has been on the board, maybe 10 years, complicit in decision making as the vice president, when the illicit activity on the tax returns was exposed.

She either read the tax and auditor’s reports, in which case she is complicit, or she did not. In this case she is guilty of failing to meet her obligations as a fiscal protector and Trustee of Borrego Health. So, what’s that all about?

There’s so many, many more unanswered questions. It makes my head swim. Questions that need to be answered, but probably won’t be. Questions that keep me awake at night wondering about health care for Borrego Springs past and future. How about you?

Rob Banta, is anyone going to be charged or indicted in the near future? What? Can’t hear you.

You might be interested in:
Rendered 12/11/2023 10:29