A federal jury in Baltimore, Maryland convicted a doctor who submitted false claims for $15 million in Medicare health insurance benefits. Payments were made for patients who were tested for the COVID-19 virus at the Drs ERgent Care network of testing centers.
According to a press release from the US Department of Justice, 49-year-old Ron Elfenbein from Arnold, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, was in the dock. The doctor was the director of the Drs ERgent Care LLC clinic, which tested people for the COVID-19 virus. Testing was also carried out by several branches of the clinic in the counties of the state of Ann Arundel and Prince George.
According to the indictment, Elfenbein’s clinics overbilled tens of thousands of Medicare claims for additional services that were not provided to patients. The damage amounted to more than 15 million US dollars.
The jury convicted Elfenbein of five counts of health care fraud.
The court will issue a verdict on November 7. The doctor faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison (10 years for each count).
According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, more than 5,000 people have been convicted of health care fraud since 2007. They have also illegally billed for Medicare insurance payments. The total damage is estimated at $24 billion.
Over the past three years, U.S. law enforcement agencies have charged 53 people with fraud related to unwarranted insurance claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The damage to the budget amounts to almost 785 million US dollars.