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Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943
Omnia pro aegroto

7/28/2003

Dr. Orient,

In June my sibling Jay Van Houten, a physician who practiced in Anchorage, Alaska from 1991 to 2002, gave me a copy of a letter you sent to Senator Bill Frist in 2002 about doctors sentenced to hard time. This letter was my introduction to the apparent national trend government has taken to discredit/destroy physicians financial and professional lives for making billing errors.

In June Jay and his wife, Ida Chen Van Houten, were sentenced to three months federal jail time for billing fraud, a sentence they did not anticipate from the plea agreement they accepted in April. I believe this sentence was unjust and have been trying to do something to help. After the sentencing, Jay felt that he had been "enticed" and "had" by the government, and realized that the plea agreement was not in their best interest. But there was no turning back.

I attended the sentencing hearing and was disturbed by several items, which I brought up in a letter to Senator Ted Stevens (see Jay letter attachment). One point the federal judge made seemed especially out-of-place. He said, "... if the patients were sentencing you, you would be in jail for life." The "victims" to whom retribution was being paid were all insurance companies. There were no representatives for the insurance companies at this session because the amounts, by health insurance standards, were insignificant. Virtually all the "other people" in the room were family and faithful patients there to support Jay and Ida though this ordeal.

Jay has encouraged me and others to write to the Alaska Congressional delegation on his behalf. I did, but the responses appear to have accomplished nothing (see Stevens, Young, Murkowski attachments).

The idea of finding an investigative reporter sympathetic to the situation is my current approach. (The Jay and Ida story does not appear that out of the ordinary, but Ida is a Chinese immigrant who feels that the treatment she has received in the US is comparable to what her physician father received in China during the Cultural Revolution.) Internet searches have revealed some relevant newspaper stories, most of which appear to have been written by government investigators/prosecutors and fed to reporters.

Do you have any suggestions of how others can help? Appreciate any information you can provide.