A Fairfax County supervisor asked yesterday that the county government staff investigate a low-priced health clinic, saying he fears that the clinic, set up by a Reston surgeon who was convicted last week in federal court of defrauding Medicare, is "preying on the poor and our senior citizens."
But a spokesman for Dr. H. Barry Jacobs, founder of the National Health Care Plan Inc. in Fairfax, said the clinic was set up because Jacobs feels that "unless people get good quality (medical) care at low prices, we're going to go (to) socialized medicine."
Supervisor Alan H. Magazine (D-Mason) said he became skeptical of the four-week-old clinic at 6231 Leesburg Pike after seeing a brochure advertising it that had been mailed to one of his constituents. The flyer contains a list of operations that can be performed for only $90 each. Magazine noted that "aboriton is at the top of the list, even though they are not listed alphabetically." A complete physical examination (not including laboratory tests) is offered for $20.
"When you get elderly and low-income people, these low prices are pretty attractive," Magazine said.
RoseanneJakaboski, an administrator of the National Health Care Plan, Inc. said it operates on profits Jacobs makes as director of another venture, Malpractice Research, Inc., a company that, for a fee ranging between $80 and $400, will review "potential malpractice cases." Jakaboski said Jacobs "goes all around the country testifying against other doctors (in malpractice suits)" making about $300,000 a year in fees.
Jacobs declared bankruptcy last July 1, listing debts exceeding $560,000, and he told a Washington Post reporter last year that he received no income from his work at Malpractice Research Inc. at that time.
Jacob also was expelled last year from the Fairfax County Medical Society - the first doctor ever to be expelled from that body - for allegedly violating the terms of a three-year probation imposed by the society. He had been placed on probation after being accused of overcharging patients and advertising medical clinics he operated briefly.
Jacobs is still licensed by the Virginia State Medical Board to practice medicine.
John Fitzgerald, executive director of the Fairfax County Medical Society, said he first became aware of the clinic when some doctors, "aaggravated" by the advertising brochure asks, "Are you tired of paying for your doctor's Cadillac and country club? Don't you want good medical care by doctors who are more concerned about you and your health, than the thickness of your wallet?"
The flyer says the clinic can offer "reasonable rates" because it has non-profit status. "If a person can prove he is indigent, we don't charge anything," Jakaboski said. An Internal Revenue Service spokesman confirmed that National Health Care Plan Inc. was given tax-exempt status in 1976, retroactive to 1974.
Jakaboski said the physician at the fairfax clinic sees between 30 and 35 patients daily and that Jacobs performs about 10 abortions a week. Jacobs, who graduated from Bellevue Medical School in New York City, does not have access to local hospitals because of his explusion from the medical society and therefore does the abortions in his clinics, Jakaboski said.
Jacobs will be sentenced in U.S. District Court on Friday on the mail fraud conviction, which is based on overcharges to Medicaid and Medicare for laboratory tests. He could receive up to five years in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. He is appealing the conviction.