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A Twin Cities acupuncture doctor is accused of cheating Medicaid out of more than $1.6 million. 

Xiaoyan Hu, 60, of Eden Prairie, was charged via summons on Thursday with defrauding Minnesota’s Medical Assistance (Medicaid) program through her business, Chinese Acupuncture and Herb Center. 

She faces 17 felony counts of theft by false representation. Meanwhile, a judge granted the prosecutor's request to freeze Hu's accounts. Hu's first court date has not been scheduled. 

Authorities allege Hu, a licensed acupuncturist, defrauded the medical assistance program from March 2016 through June 2020 while operating clinics in Edina, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Burnsville and briefly in Elk River. 

The Minnesota Attorney General's Office's conducted a two-year investigation into Chinese Acupuncture and Herb Center's practices, alleging Hu defrauded the Medicaid program by overbilling for acupuncture services, billing for services that weren't provided, and billing acupuncture services provided in a client's home without prior authorization.

According to the 27-page criminal complaint filed by the state's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Hu submitted nearly 42,000 fraudulent claims for clinic services and received $1,688,461.31 in Medicaid payments. 

She is also alleged to have collected more than $62,000 from Medicaid for fraudulent interpreter services stemming from 1,381 interpreter appointments that "falsely represented the services provided."

“Minnesotans who receive Medical Assistance have a right to expect that they’ll receive all the care, dignity, and respect they’re entitled to," said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison in a news release Thursday announcing the charges. "Minnesotans trying to afford their lives have a right to expect that every one of their tax dollars will be spent properly and legally. People who commit Medicaid fraud violate both of those rights."

Charges detail her alleged scheme, saying from 2016-2020, Hu would direct her employees to bill customers for one hour of acupuncture services although sessions did not last longer than 30-45 minutes and many appointments were done after 15 minutes. 

Former employees said when they asked Hu about improperly billing for services, Hu "rebuffed them and said to continue documenting services as one hour ... Some former employees described quitting because of [the company's] billing policies and Hu’s instructions," Ellison's news release said. 

Some clients who went to the Chinese Acupuncture and Herb Center told investigators they went to the clinic for a short period of time but were billed for months, and in one case years, after the client stopped receiving services. 

According to the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, Hu became a licensed acupuncturist in Minnesota in 1998. Her license, as of March 3, is active, set to expire at the end of October. 

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