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Department of Justice’s Focus on Telemedicine Fraud

With Covid-19 still surging throughout the United States, telemedicine has expanded as a viable option for patients seeking to limit their exposure to doctors’ offices. To meet this need, Federal and State regulators have both implemented and increased a number of measures allowing telemedicine to reach more people, as well as cover more areas of practice.

By |2021-05-25T17:49:36-04:00November 11th, 2020|Healthcare Fraud|0 Comments

Department of Justice Prosecutions of COVID-19 PPE Fraud

As discussed in a prior post, the Department of Justice has formed a nationwide task force comprised of AUSAs from each of the 93 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, as well as Main Justice. Together they total more than 100 federal prosecutors, to investigate and prosecute fraud related to the ongoing pandemic. The District of New Jersey U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito spearheads this effort.

Paycheck Protection Program Investigations

If you are a small business that was lucky enough to find a bank willing to accept and fund your small business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application, then a small portion of the $670 billion program went to an intended beneficiary. Unfortunately, many small businesses quickly learned larger banks were unwillingly to process their applications. News reports revealed banks received $10 billion in fees for the first traunch of funds dispersed, for which they received a set processing fee of 1-5% based on the size of the loan. A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against several major banks alleges they moved larger borrowers to the front of the line, ahead of many deserving smaller businesses in order to maximize on origination fees. Some corporations received tens of millions of dollars from the federal small business lending program, which initially ran out of money on April 16. Although the program has been funded once more, applicants are under much greater scrutiny.

COVID-19 Tests and Potential Kickback Enforcement

One of the largest issues hampering the re-opening of the American economy is that there are many asymptomatic yet contagious carriers of COVID-19. Rational leaders, medical experts, and scientists agree that widespread testing is essential to prevent further hotspots and determine which areas of the country may start to open again. Tests to determine whether a person is currently infected, as well as  antibody tests to determine whether a person has been exposed and may have some immunity to the virus, will soon be widely available from many new sources. Companies cannot make informed decisions about when and how to re-open without knowing if their employees are healthy. State and local governments cannot determine how to move forward without this critical information. The federal government has assisted testing companies and labs by removing some of the FDA safeguards and time periods normally in place to ensure quality standards and safety.

Coronavirus and Related-Fraud Prosecutions are on the Rise

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and various state agencies have announced that they will aggressively pursue fraudulent schemes related to COVID-19. On March 16, Attorney General William Barr directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to prioritize the detection, investigation, and prosecution of all criminal conduct related to the Coronavirus pandemic. Each office was directed to appoint a COVID-19 fraud coordinator to serve as the liaison between the local Department of Justice and their state and local counterparts.

The perfect storm: more government criminal laws and penalties

One of the earmarks of the steady expansion of government at the New Jersey state level and the federal level is that more and more laws and regulations make it easier to find yourself in violation of them. It is similar to walking through a minefield: the more mines that are laid in your path, the more likely it is that you will finally step on one of them.

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