BALTIMORE, Feb. 26 -- The Maryland Attorney General issued the following news release:
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that his Consumer Protection Division reached a settlement with an Eldersburg dentist, Loretta Schueler, DDS, and her dental practice (Dr. Schueler, DDS, LLC), resolving allegations that Dr. Schueler and her practice improperly billed patients for dental services that were either covered by insurance or that could not be billed under an agreement with the insurance provider. The Integris Group, LLC, acting on behalf of Dr. Schueler, improperly threatened patients with criminal prosecution if they failed to pay outstanding debts. Both of these practices violate the Maryland Consumer Protection Act and the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act.
"Patients were being misled into believing they had to pay more than their deductible or co-pay - and some of them were told they could be criminally prosecuted for bills they did not owe," said Attorney General Gansler. "This provider's actions crossed the line and consumers deserve to get their money back."
Dr. Schueler and her dental practice denied they violated any Maryland laws, but agreed to resolve the matter. Under the settlement, Dr. Schueler and her practice agreed that when accepting consumers' insurance coverage, they would not demand payment from consumers for any covered dental services, other than for co-payments, co-insurance and/or deductibles that are permitted under consumers' health insurance policies. They also agreed to not collect or attempt to collect a consumer debt by threatening a consumer with criminal prosecution unless the transaction involved the violation of a criminal statute.
The settlement also requires Dr. Schueler and her practice to pay restitution equal to the sum of the amounts that were improperly collected from consumers during the five-year period that preceded the settlement. Dr. Schueler and her practice further agreed to pay the Consumer Protection Division $10,000 for the costs of its investigation and a penalty amount of up to $20,000.
For more information regarding the settlement, contact the Consumer Protection Division's Health Education and Advocacy Unit at 410-528-1840 or 877-261-8807.
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