Yesterday DOJ and HHS-OIG announced a major healthcare fraud takedown, much of which focused on alleged telehealth-related schemes. While DOJ brought cases in districts across the country, the telemedicine and telehealth related cases were particularly concentrated in Florida and across the southeast.
Of the 58 telehealth cases announced, 18 are docketed in the Middle or Southern Districts of Florida. Districts in South Carolina and Georgia had another eight total cases, and another six cases arose in Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama. Of the remaining 26 cases, twelve were charged in the District of New Jersey—a historically active jurisdiction for telemedicine and telehealth-related enforcement—and another four in Southern District of California.
As with all orchestrated “takedown” announcements, many of the prosecutions are not new or even particularly recent. For example, the Willie McNeal indictment in Tampa, Florida (which we covered here) was charged well over a year ago in April 2019. What is new, however, is the several criminal informations filed related to McNeal’s case, including against Christopher Helfrich, owner of A2B Insurance and CRH Holdings, Adam Kovacsik, another owner of A2B Insurance, and Fernando Mendez, owner of Upshot Digital. All were charged in individual cases with conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1349. Additional defendants were charged in existing or new cases involving common telemedicine-scheme subjects like cancer genetic testing (CGx) and durable medical equipment (DME).
Like DOJ’s April 2019 Operation Brace Yourself, yesterday’s announcement marks another significant development in the federal government’s increasing scrutiny of telemedicine and telehealth businesses. Watch this space for more analysis and updates to come.