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Virginia company will pay $343,000 to settle Medicare fraud claim

By Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 22--A Virginia company has agreed to pay the United States more than $343,000 to settle claims that it ripped off Medicare through genetic tests marketed under false pretenses by one of its contract agents at the Greene County offices of a Green Tree medical practice.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said American International Biotechnology, through a contract sales agent named Jason Hoover, violated the False Claims Act by obtaining improper referrals for genetic tests billed to Medicare. The complaint said Mr. Hoover also tried to bribe a nurse to help him recruit patients for the testing.

The scheme was initially raised in a federal suit brought last year by Greentree Medical Center and later joined by the Justice Department.

The U.S. alleged that Mr. Hoover falsely marketed genetic swab tests for patients at Lions Medical Center in Rices Landing, Pa., which is operated by Greentree Medical.

According to the complaint, Mr. Hoover approached a registered nurse at Lions Medical for help in recruiting patients, offering to pay him a kickback of $50 per patient to "swab everyone who comes through the door."

The nurse declined the kickback, according to the complaint, but did begin collecting DNA swabs of patients and submitted the partially completed forms to Mr. Hoover, believing they were needed for the clinical trial.

Mr. Hoover later filled out the rest of the forms with patients' insurance information, which he obtained under false pretenses, and billed the tests to Medicare, the Justice Department said.

The scam was uncovered in 2012 when Lions Medical patients began receiving statements of benefits from their insurers indicating that AIB was seeking reimbursement for the tests.

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.

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(c)2014 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at www.post-gazette.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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