Georgia Woman Pleads Guilty as a Result of a Nationwide Telehealth Fraud Investigation
The Department of Justice recently announced that Robin Darnell, referred to as “Nurse Robin,” has pled guilty to one count of conspiracy as part of her role in a telehealth kickback scheme. According to the Department, the plea agreement may result in a possible sentence of up to five years in prison, substantial financial penalties, and up to three subsequent years of supervised release.
In the plea, Darnell admitted that from June 2018 through September 2020, she took part in a telemedicine kickback scheme to recruit prescribers to issue orders for durable medical equipment and genetic testing. According to the Department of Justice announcement, Darnell misrepresented to physicians that a team of nurses would conduct telehealth encounters with patients on behalf of the ordering physicians in exchange for the physician’s ordering medical equipment or genetic tests for those patients. Darnell’s conspirators then used these falsified orders to submit claims to Medicare for highly reimbursed tests and products.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia has now charged 33 defendants as part of its investigation into fraudulent orders for genetic testing, durable medical equipment, and pain creams. According to the Office, the investigation is ongoing.
How Frier Levitt Can Help
In an impermissibly structured relationship, every stakeholder has exposure, including marketers, prescribers, any entity that pays the prescriber, and/or the laboratory, pharmacy, or durable medical equipment supplier that ultimately receives an invalid order or prescription derived from a model that violates the Anti-Kickback Statute or other federal or state law.
Continued government enforcement activity emphasizes the need for every telehealth arrangement to be reviewed by competent health care counsel. Of note, federal prosecutors appear to be closely scrutinizing telehealth models focused on genetic testing and durable medical equipment.
Frier Levitt’s team of healthcare attorneys has extensive experience guiding clients in developing compliant telehealth and healthcare marketing models. To obtain a regulatory review of an existing or planned business arrangement, implement an internal compliance program, or for guidance regarding the process of responding to an investigation, contact Frier Levitt to speak with an attorney.