Manassas Journal Messenger | Insurance firms cut ties to doctor
At least three insurance companies have cut ties with a Woodbridge doctor who is accused of giving prescriptions for painkillers in exchange for sexual favors, even though his case has not been settled, causing problems for patients.
Unicare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield have ended their relationship with Dr. Abhay Aggroia, who is awaiting a federal trial on charges that he exchanged Percocet prescriptions for oral sex, although none of the companies would say if the case is the reason for the termination.
Another company, Aetna, has tried to end its relationship, but Aggroia is appealing the termination, according to Walt Cherniak, company spokesman. Aetna clients can go to Aggroia while the appeal, which is expected to be decided next month, is pending.
“He is not in the Unicare network as of right now,” said Tony Felts, a Unicare spokesman. “I would suspect, because the court case is ongoing, the decision would not be made on pending litigation, but I do not exactly know why he is no longer a part of our network.”
According to the Virginia Board of Medicine, each of these companies was a participating provider of Aggroia as late as June 19, along with four other companies, three of which confirmed Aggroia is still a member.
According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court, Aggroia took advantage of a female patient who was addicted to painkillers, during a six-month period, ending in January.
Aggroia, who declined to be interviewed for this story, was arraigned July 29 on a charge of unlawfully distributing a controlled substance.
“I feel like I’m being punished because he messed up,” said Dale City resident Danielle Brown, who has been a patient of Aggroia’s for over 10 years.
Brown said she had an appointment with Aggroia the day of his arraignment, but it was cancelled because her insurance terminated the agreement with Aggroia. The appointment was rescheduled for the next week, but was cancelled as well.
Brown said Blue Cross and Blue Shield sent her a letter saying Aggroia was no longer affiliated with the company. The letter stated she could continue to go to Aggroia, but she would have to pay more.
Now Brown, along with her parents, are angry because they have to pay to have their medical records transferred to another doctor, whom they had to find. Brown said Aggroia’s office has tried to charge her more for her records, which are property of the doctor, to be sent to another physician.
“I can understand if I went to him and cancelled my relationship and needed my records transferred, but this is because of him,” Brown said. “Why should I have to pay?”
Three other companies — Cigna, Private Healthcare Systems and National Capital PPO — along with Medicare and Medicaid — still list Aggroia as a participating provider. Attempts to reach another insurance provider, MAMSI, which was listed as accepting Aggroia as of June 19, were unsuccessful.
A spokeswoman for Cigna said any doctors found guilty of a felony are immediately terminated or if the doctor’s license is revoked.
Karen Perrine, Deputy Executive Director of the Virginia Board of Medicine’s Discipline Division, declined to comment on Aggroia.
She did say that if a doctor is found guilty of a crime, the Virginia Board of Medicine will automatically suspend his license.
The board can then do a separate investigation to determine if the doctor acted inappropriately and then take any necessary action.
Perrine declined to say if the board is currently investigating Aggroia or if any complaints had been filed against him. The department’s Web site said Aggroia did not have any actions against him.
Until then, it’s up to patients of Aggroia to make sure their insurance provider still accepts Aggroia or any doctor they go to.
“Patients need to make sure before each appointment that their doctor is covered so they are not paying more,” said Ken Shrod of the Virginia State Corporation Commission Bureau of Insurance. “The companies enter into negotiations with doctors in order to keep their insurance costs down and have the right to drop or add a doctor when they see fit.”