Winner 2003

Medicaid Dental Centers Investigation


Stuart Watson, investigative reporter for WCNC-TV, spent six months talking to dozens of patients, pouring over dental records, consulting experts, and tracking tens of millions of dollars in government databases to expose the shady practices of a group of North Carolina dental clinics. Although the clinics were not government agencies, their profits depended on government reimbursement for services, and clinic staff members were paid bonuses based on the amount they billed Medicaid. The resulting investigative series, executive produced by Keith Connors and Mary Alvarez and produced by Rick Yarborough, reveals how one group profited by treating children few other dentists would care for, often performing unnecessary work on very young patients. North Carolina taxpayers were billed for tens of millions of dollars. Despite an active law suit brought by the dentists, the investigation continues, with the FBI interviewing patients and a North Carolina state senator calling for a complete investigation. For its relentless and in-depth pursuit of highly questionable dental treatment and outrageous billing practices, WCNC-TV receives a Peabody for its Medicaid Dental Centers Investigation.