Enforcement actions over the past week saw two key lab-related cases, the biggest involving a lab owner pleading guilty to his role in an $89 million cancer genetic screening fraud scheme. The second case saw two doctors convicted for their roles in a healthcare fraud scheme involving medically unnecessary urinalysis testing. In a third case not reported by the U.S. Department of Justice, but a Pennsylvania newspaper, a man was sentenced to jail time for shouting threats and racial slurs at a female clinical lab employee during an incident in which he became upset over the lab’s COVID-19 mask wearing policy.
Key Healthcare-Related Enforcement Actions Announced from March 15 – March 29, 2023
|Date Action Announced
|· Dr. William Lawrence Siefert
· Dr. Timothy Ehn
|Two doctors from a Kentucky-based pain clinic, Northern Kentucky Center for Pain Relief, were convicted for their role in a healthcare fraud scheme in which they billed Medicare for millions of dollars’ worth of medically unnecessary urinalysis testing. Some of that testing was supposedly performed using “faulty machinery.” Medical doctor Siefert was an employee at the clinic and chiropractor Ehn was the clinic’s owner.
|Both doctors were convicted of healthcare fraud and Ehn was also convicted of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. Both doctors face up to 10 years for the healthcare fraud count while Ehn faces up to an additional 10 years on the conspiracy count. They are to be sentenced in September.1
|Accused of participating in an $89 million cancer genetic screening (CGx) test fraud and kickback scheme in which he and his co-conspirators paid bribes and kickbacks in exchange for referrals and orders for medically unnecessary CGx testing that was then billed to Medicare and other federal health insurance programs. Those involved in the scheme owned, operated, and had a financial interest in the clinical lab performing the tests as well as in a marketing call center and telemedicine company that arranged for various medical tests.
|Pled guilty to three counts: 1) Conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with a scheme to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, 2) conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, and 3) conspiring to commit wire fraud. Bunnell could see up to five years for the first count, 10 years for the second, and 20 years for the third, as well as fines of either up to $250,000 for each count, or double the gross gain or loss from each offense.2
In another case reported by a Pennsylvania newspaper, a 47-year-old man was sentenced to 23 months in county jail on March 28 for threatening and shouting “racial epithets” at a female clinical laboratory employee during a November 2021 incident in which he refused to properly wear a mask, which was against the Springfield Township lab’s COVID-19 policy at the time.3