Minal Patel, a person of Indian descent who ran a laboratory in Georgia, USA, received a 27-year prison term for his role in a huge genetic testing fraud that cost $463 million (about Rs 3,850 crore). Over the course of three years, the scheme operated with the intention of defrauding Medicare, a federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.
Patel, 44, was the owner of LabSolutions LLC and was instrumental in putting the scam together. He worked with call centers, telemedicine businesses, and patient brokers to telemarket to Medicare recipients. Beneficiaries were misled into believing that pricey cancer genetic tests were covered by their insurance by these calls. To make matters worse, unneeded tests that were paid for with kickbacks and bribes were administered to the beneficiaries.
According to the Department of Justice, Patel participated in a sophisticated network of coordination. He paid payments and bribes to patient brokers, who then secured signed doctor's orders from telemedicine businesses after patients consented to undergo tests. The tests were not essential, but these orders were intended to approve them.
Patel made patient brokers sign contracts that falsely stated they were delivering legitimate advertising services for LabSolutions in an effort to conceal the illicit business dealings. LabSolutions submitted false Medicare claims totaling over $463 million between July 2016 and August 2019; the program paid out approximately $187 million of the claims.
Patel received more than $21 million from Medicare over the designated period, making him a hugely successful individual beneficiary of the fraudulent scam. His acts exploited patients who required proper medical care while also draining Medicare of a sizable sum of money.
Patel is now dealing with the repercussions of his crimes as a result of the complex system, which stole hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare.
The investigation was conducted as part of Operation Double Helix, a broad law enforcement effort led by the Health Care Fraud Strike Force and managed by the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division. As a result of this operation's focus on fraudulent genetic cancer testing, numerous defendants connected to telemedicine businesses and cancer genetic testing labs have been charged. The scandal's size makes it one of the biggest healthcare fraud cases ever charged. (Rehash/Dr. Nithin G N)