The Department of Justice just announced charges against 21 individuals in a nationwide crackdown of COVID-19 related prosecutions that resulted in $150 million worth of fraud. The schemes were varied and involved medical doctors, medical labs, marketers and others in the healthcare field.

For instance, two owners of a lab in California allegedly billed more than $125 million in fraudulent claims. In Maryland and New York drive through test site operators are accused of using confidential patient information to bill for lengthy office visits that never occurred. In New Jersey, five individuals were accused of paying or receiving kickbacks for referring COVID tests to a particular lab. Even though the tests were medically necessary, and the lab only billed the allowable rate to the government program, the lab was accused of violating the anti-kickback statute that prohibits paying individuals or companies to refer tests.

The Maryland case charged a physician with submitting false claims to Medicare and private insurers. The defendant owned drive through COVID testing sites. Employees gathered patient information at the sites and later submitted false claims for complex in office visits for other healthcare procedures that never occurred.

In Florida, a registered nurse was charged with signing huge numbers of medically unnecessary doctor’s orders in exchange for sham telemedicine consulting fees. Another case in Florida charged individuals with fraudulent Medicare billing for medical equipment that was obtained by paying kickbacks to marketing companies that solicited patients for equipment they didn’t need.

In other schemes, defendants in California were charged with allegedly counterfeiting vaccine cards. Another case involved a hospital pharmacy director who obtained authentic Moderna dose lot numbers and used them to falsify vaccine ecards.

In New Jersey, one of the District’s first healthcare fraud trials just resulted in a guilty verdict against a medical sales representative of a diagnostic lab who paid kickbacks to a physician for referring tests to the lab. In an effort to disguise the kickbacks, the marketer placed the physician’s medical assistant on the lab’s payroll. In a related scheme, the marketer was paid for promoting medically unnecessary compound medicines that certain insurance plans covered. The defendant and others paid kickbacks to doctors to prescribe the unnecessary compounds without even examining the patients.

Other cases have charged individuals with fraudulently obtaining relief funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. A 2020 bill that provided billion in emergency financial assistance.

These and scores of other cases highlight federal authorities continuing investigations and DOJ’s aggressive prosecution of a variety of healthcare fraud schemes. These schemes involve medically unnecessary compound medicines, genetic cancer tests, kickbacks on prescriptions for DME – durable medical equipment – such as braces, as well as COVID-19 tests.

Federal healthcare laws and regulations are complex. There are countless ways for doctors, pharmacists, lab owners and marketers to violate these laws. Stahl Criminal Defense Lawyers have extensive experience representing individuals and corporations accused of healthcare fraud. To contact the firm’s NJ office, call 908.301.9001 and to contact the firm’s NYC office, call 212.755.3300, or email Mr. Stahl at rstahl@stahlesq.com.