Georgia Woman Charged With Medicare Scam Related To Cancer, COVID-19 Testing
A Lawrenceville woman was arrested Friday for her alleged role in a conspiracy to defraud Medicare, federal officials said.
Ashley Hoobler Parris, 32, faces charges of submitting false and fraudulent claims for cancer genetic testing, in addition to conspiring to submit fraudulent claims related to COVID-19 and other tests.
Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski said Parris allegedly sought to pay and receive illegal kickbacks in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries for expensive genetic screening tests and COVID-19 tests.
“The department will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the public from those who defraud our government health care programs, especially those who exploit the COVID-19 pandemic for personal gain,” Benczkowski said.
Authorities allege Parris solicited and took illegal payments from the owners and operators of a diagnostic testing laboratory since in or around October 2018. The payments were in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries to the same laboratory.
The complaint further alleges the owners and operators of the laboratory then submitted claims to Medicare for cancer genetic testing for the beneficiaries referred by Parris that were not eligible for reimbursement.
The laboratory paid Parris a percentage of the paid claims as kickbacks.
Georgia began to feel the impacts of COVID-19 earlier this year.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, certain laboratory owners and operators made illegal payments in exchange for completed COVID-19 and Respiratory Pathogen Panel tests — which reimburse at a much higher rate than the COVID-19 tests.
The complaint further alleges Parris agreed with others to be paid illegally on a per-test basis for COVID-19 tests, provided that those tests were bundled with more expensive RPP tests. Medicare’s reimbursement rates for the RPP tests are approximately four times higher than the reimbursement rates for the COVID-19 test.
Special Agent Omar Pérez Aybar said this arrest should be a warning that federal officials remain vigilant in the fight against health care fraud and improper billing of federal healthcare programs.
“With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to hold accountable those who attempt to enrich themselves at the government’s expense,” Aybar said.