A medical transportation company that was blacklisted by Medi-Cal was still operating and collecting taxpayer dollars nearly four months after state administrators assured 2 Investigates the company had been cut off.
Over the past 16 months, 2 Investigates has watched Med Express Transportation drivers picking up and dropping off patients at dialysis clinics in vans with body damage, broken mirrors, missing headlights, no proof of insurance, expired or suspended registrations, and in one case, no license plates.
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Uninsured, unregistered medical vans still on the road
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Officials with the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) now admit that Med Express was still receiving public money under an intermediary medical plan, but regulators were unaware until 2 Investigates brought it to their attention. DHCS said it has now notified that third party provider about Med Express’s status and the company’s contract has been terminated.
But Med Express owner Nathan Rabah still owes the state more than $1.7 million from previous fraudulent Medi-Cal claims, and the state has been unable to collect for years.
Rabah billed the state for more than $3.6 million in Medi-Cal claims between 2010 and 2015, according DHCS. But according to a state audit, investigators discovered that Rabah couldn’t provide proof of services for more than $1.7 million of those claims. The company also billed for transporting some patients after their "date of death," according to records.
DHCS officials say they have only been able to collect $230,000 so far.
For the second time this year, 2 Investigates brought our footage to the attention of DHCS spokesman Norman Williams.
In May, Williams assured 2 Investigates that DHCS had cut off Med Express from collecting Medi-Cal funds either directly or through third party medical providers.
“That turned out not to be true,” Williams recently admitted.
When 2 Investigates again went to DHCS headquarters looking for answers, Williams had no explanation for why patients were being transported in a van registered to Med Express, paid for with Medi-Cal funds by a third party medical provider, as recently as July.
“It was a simple process failure,” Williams said.
Non-emergency transport companies enrolled as Medi-Cal providers legally have 35 days to report “any addition or change in the drivers, equipment, or other information previously submitted in the application package,” according to DHCS. The agency says according to their records, Rabah was initially licensed to have only one van on the road, and he was listed as the sole driver. But 2 Investigates has captured hours of video showing multiple vans and drivers working for the company over the past year and a half.
Rabah has repeatedly refused to discuss his van company with 2 Investigates. He would only say that he recently sold the unregistered, uninsured van spotted in July transporting a patient. Although that van was registered under Med Express’ name at the time, according to the DMV, Rabah insists that his company was not operating it. Rabah agreed to provide proof of the sale to 2 Investigates, but never did.
DMV records show that many of the Med Express vans recorded on the road by 2 Investigates had their registrations suspended for lacking proof of insurance at the time they were spotted. Several license plates were also flagged for parking violations. One van recorded by KTVU with a suspended registration and no proof of insurance has since been reregistered with the DMV under a different business name, and has been issued a new, valid title.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has opened an insurance fraud investigation into Rabah, but would not confirm whether any charges are forthcoming. KTVU cameras were there in December when Sheriff’s deputies, the California Department of Insurance, and the FBI raided Rabah’s $1.5 million home in Castro Valley and removed boxes of evidence, as part of the DA’s investigation.
Records show that deputies also arrested Rabah and his two sons, Aimen Rabah, 24, and Mohmoud Rabah, 25, at the time. The younger Rabah brother was booked on two felonies for receiving stolen property and a weapons violation, and one misdemeanor for driving on a suspended license. The elder brother was booked on five weapons-related charges, according to an arrest report. Their father was booked on three weapons-related charges. The DA’s Office would not comment on those arrests, and would only say that the statute of limitations has not expired on any of the alleged crimes they are investigating.