May 20, 2024

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Maryland medical doctor charged with defrauding Medicare, other insurers by $1.5 million

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A well known Maryland physician overseeing coronavirus tests at Baltimore-Washington Worldwide Marshall Airport and other web pages in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties was indicted on Tuesday, accused by federal prosecutors of overcharging Medicare and other insurers by additional than $1.5 million.

Ron Elfenbein, 47, has been a frequent visitor on nearby and national tv information during broadcasts about coronavirus screening, treatment options and vaccines. At an August ribbon-chopping for the clinic inside of BWI, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) offered him a quotation for his attempts through the pandemic.

Now federal prosecutors say that less than Elfenbein’s route, clinics billed Medicare and other insurers for coronavirus checks in mix with “more rewarding, but medically unnecessary” products and services, according to a grand jury indictment. These solutions “were purportedly of a 30-minute or extended period, or involving average or higher concentrations of professional medical conclusion-making, but did not in reality take place as represented,” the indictment reported.

The indictment alleges Elfenbein realized many people had been getting seen for a lot less than five minutes but directed staffers to monthly bill for the better-degree solutions in any case, declaring they ended up “the ‘bread and butter’ of how we get compensated.”

A attorney for Elfenbein, Mike Lawlor, disputed all those accusations. “In the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Ron Elfenbein rallied his doctor’s place of work in a time of world wide concern, to be a top supplier of coronavirus screening and treatment method in the community” Lawlor said in an electronic mail. “ … A demo in this circumstance will prove not only that Dr. Elfenbein is innocent of the expenses rapidly brought by the federal government, but that all through a time of unprecedented will need, Dr. Elfenbein and his staff members saved the lives of numerous Marylanders.”

The indictment, which expenses Elfenbein with three counts of well being-care fraud, identifies him as an proprietor and health care director of Drs ERgent Care, a firm that also does company less than the names To start with Contact Health care Middle and Chesapeake ERgent Care.

Drs ERgent Treatment was started off in 2015 and mentioned as its “principal office” the residence deal with of Maryland Del. Sid A. Saab (R-Anne Arundel), who was listed as registered agent, corporate documents clearly show. The upcoming yr, the tackle changed and Elfenbein turned registered agent.

Saab, who attended the ribbon-slicing at BWI, in January mentioned himself in a mandatory fiscal disclosure as component owner of Gambrills Health-related Management, which, according to the disclosure, manages Initial Phone Health-related Center Gambrills. The latter company operates the BWI clinic, in accordance to documents taken care of by the Maryland Board of Public Performs. The clinic, inside the principal terminal close to Concourse C, offers emergency care, coronavirus tests and vaccinations, as well as other providers.

A LinkedIn web page for Saab, a condition delegate due to the fact 2015, lists him as co-proprietor of a health and fitness center, president of a real estate organization, and main govt of a firm concerned in “precious metal recycling” tied to the exact same Gambrills tackle as Very first Call Clinical Centre. Dan Hazelwood, a spokesman for Saab’s political campaign, said Saab experienced no comment.

A task listing in the course of the earlier calendar year linked with First Contact Health care Center for anyone to supervise a centre featuring monoclonal antibody infusions, a covid-19 treatment, explained the place would report to Saab and Elfenbein.

A member of the Home Health and Authorities Operations Committee, Saab recently filed to run for the state senate. He mentioned in the economical disclosure, “First Phone Health-related Heart had a contract with the Section of Health and fitness relevant to coronavirus testing and treatment.”

He retains concerning 25 and 49 % of Gambrills Health-related Management, in accordance to his disclosure. “Neither Gambrills Medical Management nor First Get in touch with gained any cash from the Condition. I did not take part in any negotiations with the Condition,” the disclosure said.

Connor Ferguson, whose LinkedIn site lists him as taking care of spouse of Initially Contact Medical Centre, cautioned a reporter when arrived at by cellular phone Friday: “Just be very mindful — since it is an unbiased company, with Dr. Elfenbein — in implicating Initial Simply call, so that is all I’ll say. Because he operates a qualified corporation underneath Drs ERgent Treatment.”

Asked if he could clarify what he meant, he replied, “Nope. Bye.”

Other than Elfenbein, no just one at Drs ERgent Treatment or the connected companies has been billed or accused of any criminal offense.

Elfenbein graduated from SUNY Upstate Clinical University’s Faculty of Medicine in New York in 2000. He ran unsuccessfully for the Normal Assembly in 2006 and 2010, and sought to fill a vacated seat in 2015.

Before the pandemic, Initially Get in touch with Healthcare Centre had about 20 workers at one locale, in accordance to an write-up Elfenbein was interviewed for in Upstate Professional medical University’s alumni journal. As of October, the corporation experienced about 200 workers at two urgent treatment facilities, three coronavirus screening facilities, two monoclonal antibody infusion centers and a coming cellular screening unit, the posting said.

“Covid-19 has impacted every person,” Elfenbein explained to the journal. “We were being equipped to be ahead-pondering to deliver desired general public wellness products and services. In the procedure, that authorized us to improve as a organization and offer about 180 new employment, which is a good detail.”

Just after opening the initial monoclonal antibody infusion website, the write-up reported, the company was approached by federal and Maryland health officials to run a 2nd monoclonal web-site and speedy-screening heart exterior FedEx Subject subsequent to a point out-run PCR tests facility. “As of Oct, we were being receiving 15 per cent of the point out allocation of monoclonal antibodies,” Elfenbein informed the journal.

In saying Elfenbein’s indictment, the Maryland U.S. attorney’s business stated he was amid 18 persons throughout the United States indicted in alleged fraud strategies that resulted in around $149 million in covid-linked false billings to federal plans and theft from assistance programs.

“It is unconscionable that this defendant sought to line his have pockets for the duration of a world wide pandemic by grossly overbilling Medicare and other insurers for these important wellbeing care products and services all through a time of nationwide disaster,” Thomas J. Sobocinski, particular agent in demand for the FBI’s Baltimore area office, reported in a information launch. “If the allegations towards Dr. Elfenbein, and the 17 many others that had been billed right now are verified, they must be ashamed of their conduct and will be held accountable for their felony steps.”

If convicted, Elfenbein would facial area a optimum of 10 decades in federal jail for each of the a few counts. The indictment claims he was “aided and abetted by … other individuals recognized and not known to the Grand Jury,” but it did not title any of them.