DOJ charges doctors, others in Covid health-care fraud schemes

Eighteen individuals, a few of them docs, had been criminally charged with Covid-19 health-care fraud schemes that netted a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of {dollars} from false billings and theft from federally funded applications, the Division of Justice stated Thursday.

The fees, which span 9 federal judicial districts, comprise the most important coordinated legislation enforcement motion within the U.S. concentrating on fraud schemes that “exploit the Covid pandemic,” the DOJ stated in a press launch.

One California physician, Anthony Hao Dinh, was charged with allegedly submitting round $230 million in fraudulent claims to the federal Well being Sources and Companies Administration’s Covid-19 Uninsured Program.

Dinh, who practices in Orange County, was the nation’s second-highest biller to that program, in accordance with the DOJ. This system aimed to supply uninsured sufferers with entry to Covid testing and therapy, however it stopped working final yr resulting from an absence of funding. 

A number of the claims Dinh submitted had been for companies that weren’t rendered or not medically mandatory, prosecutors stated. He additionally allegedly billed this system for the therapy of sufferers who had been insured.

Dinh allegedly used greater than $100 million of fraud proceeds for high-risk choices buying and selling. 

Dinh and two different people are additionally charged with allegedly submitting greater than 70 fraudulent mortgage purposes that obtained greater than $3 million below the federal Paycheck Safety Program and Financial Damage Catastrophe Mortgage Program.

One other defendant in California, lab proprietor Lourdes Navarro, is accused of submitting greater than $358 million in false claims for lab testing to Medicare, which is the federal medical health insurance program for senior residents, to HRSA and to a non-public insurance coverage firm.

Navarro’s lab carried out Covid screening checks for nursing properties and faculties, and allegedly elevated its reimbursements by including claims for respiratory pathogen panel checks that suppliers and facility directors didn’t order.

Different instances introduced Thursday concerned suppliers of over-the-counter Covid check kits, the DOJ stated.

Medicare final April started to cowl with out out-of-pocket prices as much as eight of these checks a month for beneficiaries who requested them. 

However some suppliers allegedly “sought to use this system” by repeatedly supplying sufferers with dozens of Covid checks “they didn’t need or want,” the DOJ stated.

A physician and marketer in Florida had been charged with allegedly buying Medicare beneficiary identification numbers and delivery checks to beneficiaries who didn’t request them.

That resulted in $8.4 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, the DOJ stated.

Different instances concerned the alleged manufacture and distribution of pretend Covid vaccine document playing cards.

Defendants in these instances embody three medical professionals working at a small midwife apply in New York, who allegedly distributed almost 2,700 cast Covid vaccine playing cards to individuals who weren’t vaccinated.

The midwife apply was one of many busiest vaccination websites within the state, the DOJ stated. However as a substitute of administering the Covid vaccine, the defendants allegedly destroyed vials of the vaccines meant for sufferers, the DOJ stated.

Two individuals in Utah had been additionally charged with allegedly manufacturing and promoting about 120,000 faux Covid vaccine playing cards. These defendants offered the playing cards throughout the U.S., particularly in areas that had tighter restrictions round Covid vaccinations, prosecutors allege.

The DOJ stated the individuals charged with distributing faux vaccine playing cards “deliberately sought to impede” the federal authorities’s efforts to roll out a nationwide Covid vaccine program.

“The Justice Division is not going to tolerate those that exploited the pandemic for private achieve and stole taxpayer {dollars},” Lawyer Common Merrick Garland stated in a press launch.

“This unprecedented enforcement motion in opposition to defendants throughout the nation makes clear that the Division is utilizing each accessible useful resource to fight and stop COVID-19 associated fraud and safeguard the integrity of taxpayer-funded applications.”

The fees come months after the division created three strike power groups to reinforce its efforts to fight and stop Covid-related fraud. Additionally they observe related felony prices associated to Covid fraud schemes in April 2022 and Might 2021.

In its announcement Thursday, the DOJ stated it had seized greater than $16 million in money in reference to the alleged schemes.

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