Final spring, Lags Medical Facilities, a sprawling chain of ache clinics serving greater than 20,000 sufferers in California, abruptly shuttered amid a cloaked state investigation into “credible allegations of fraud.” Tens of 1000’s of sufferers had been left scrambling for care, most of them low-income Californians coated by state and federal insurance coverage applications. Many have struggled for entry to their medical data and to search out docs who would renew long-standing opioid prescriptions.

In the months since, the state has declined to elaborate on the issues that prompted its investigation, which is ongoing.

KHN senior correspondents Jenny Gold and Anna Maria Barry-Jester got down to unravel what occurred inside Lags Medical, an affiliated community of clinics beneath the possession of Dr. Francis P. Lagattuta. Interviews with former sufferers and workers, in addition to analyses of Medicare and Medi-Cal billing knowledge and different authorities paperwork, counsel the clinics operated primarily based on a markedly high-volume and unorthodox strategy to ache administration.

This contains frequently performing pores and skin biopsies that trade specialists describe as out of the norm for ache specialists, in addition to notably excessive charges of nerve ablations and high-end urine checks that display for an intensive checklist of medicine. Such procedures and associated pathology companies at an in-house lab generated tens of millions of {dollars} in insurer funds lately for Lags Medical.

A lot of the work at Lags Medical was carried out by a comparatively small quantity of nurse practitioners and doctor assistants, every juggling dozens of sufferers a day, based on interviews with former workers. Former sufferers reported feeling strain to consent to injections and different typically painful procedures or danger having their opioid provides lower off.

On Feb. 25, Gold and Barry-Jester joined Valley Public Radio’s Kathleen Schock on “Valley Version” to debate their findings. In a wide-ranging interview, they described the clinic’s quantity of punch biopsies and different uncommon medical practices. Additionally they mentioned the affect of the chain’s abrupt closure on the Central Valley communities the place many of the clinics operated.

You possibly can take heed to their dialog here.

This story was produced by KHN, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially impartial service of the California Health Care Foundation.