A notable Maryland physician overseeing coronavirus testing at Baltimore-Washington Global Marshall Airport and other sites in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties was indicted on Tuesday, accused by federal prosecutors of overcharging Medicare and other insurers by far more than $1.5 million.
Ron Elfenbein, 47, has been a recurrent visitor on nearby and national television information during broadcasts about coronavirus screening, treatment options and vaccines. At an August ribbon-slicing for the new clinic within BWI, Gov. Larry Hogan, R, presented him a quotation for his initiatives for the duration of the pandemic.
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Now federal prosecutors say that under Elfenbein’s path, clinics billed Medicare and other insurers for coronavirus exams in mix with “more lucrative, but medically unneeded” services, according to a grand jury indictment. These services “were being purportedly of a 30-moment or extended length, or involving reasonable or substantial ranges of professional medical choice-producing, but did not in reality manifest as represented,” the indictment stated.
The indictment alleges Elfenbein understood a lot of sufferers ended up remaining witnessed for less than five minutes but directed staffers to invoice for the larger-amount services anyway, declaring they were “the ‘bread and butter’ of how we get paid out.”
A law firm for Elfenbein, Mike Lawlor, disputed those accusations. “In the early times of the pandemic, Dr. Ron Elfenbein rallied his doctor’s place of work in a time of international fear, to be a top supplier of coronavirus screening and treatment method in the group” Lawlor claimed in an email. ” . . . A trial in this scenario will confirm not only that Dr. Elfenbein is harmless of the fees unexpectedly introduced by the governing administration, but that throughout a time of unparalleled will need, Dr. Elfenbein and his staff saved the life of numerous Marylanders.”
The indictment, which prices Elfenbein with 3 counts of health and fitness-treatment fraud, identifies him as an owner and clinical director of Drs ERgent Care, a corporation that also does company below the names Initially Simply call Health-related Heart and Chesapeake ERgent Care.
Drs ERgent Treatment was began in 2015 and shown as its “principal office” the home tackle of Maryland Del. Sid Saab, R-Anne-Arundel, who was listed as registered agent, company information show. The future 12 months, the address transformed and Elfenbein became registered agent.
Saab, who attended the ribbon chopping at BWI, in January mentioned himself in a mandatory monetary disclosure as element owner of Gambrills Professional medical Management, which, according to the disclosure, manages To start with Contact Medical Middle Gambrills. The latter business operates the BWI clinic, according to data managed by the Maryland Board of Public Works. The clinic, inside of the main terminal in the vicinity of Concourse C, presents crisis treatment, coronavirus screening and vaccinations, as properly as other solutions.
A LinkedIn site for Saab, a point out delegate given that 2015, lists him as co-owner of a health middle, president of a serious estate corporation and chief govt of a company associated in “important steel recycling” tied to the identical Gambrills handle as First Simply call Health-related Center. Dan Hazelwood, a spokesman for Saab’s political marketing campaign, said Saab experienced no comment.
A occupation listing during the past yr connected with First Simply call Medical Centre for another person to supervise a middle featuring monoclonal antibody infusions, a coronavirus therapy, reported the placement would report to Saab and Elfenbein.
A member of the Dwelling Wellbeing and Govt Operations Committee, Saab lately submitted to run for state senate. He stated in the economical disclosure: “Very first Connect with Health-related Center had a deal with the Section of Wellness relevant to coronavirus testing and cure.”
He holds concerning 25% and 49% of Gambrills Health care Management, according to his disclosure. “Neither Gambrills Health care Management nor Initial Simply call received any money from the Condition. I did not participate in any negotiations with the State,” the disclosure said.
Connor Ferguson, whose LinkedIn web site lists him as taking care of lover of Very first Phone Health-related Center, cautioned a reporter when reached by telephone Friday: “Just be pretty watchful – since it is an unbiased company, with Dr. Elfenbein – in implicating Initially Simply call, so that is all I will say. Because he operates a experienced company less than Drs ERgent Care.”
Requested if he could make clear what he meant, he replied, “Nope. Bye.”
No a single at Drs ERgent Care or the related companies, other than Elfenbein, has been charged or accused of any criminal offense.
Elfenbein graduated from SUNY Upstate Clinical University’s Higher education of Medication in New York in 2000. He ran unsuccessfully for Common Assembly in 2006 and 2010, and sought to fill a vacated seat in 2015.
Right before the pandemic, To start with Contact Medical Heart experienced about 20 workers at one locale, in accordance to an article Elfenbein was interviewed for in Upstate Health care University’s alumni journal. As of Oct, the organization experienced about 200 personnel at two urgent care centers, three coronavirus testing centers, two monoclonal antibody infusion facilities and a coming mobile screening device, the write-up mentioned.
“COVID-19 has impacted everybody,” Elfenbein explained to the journal. “We have been equipped to be ahead-wondering to provide essential public well being expert services. In the approach, that allowed us to improve as a company and deliver about 180 new careers, which is a wonderful matter.”
Following opening the initial monoclonal antibody infusion web-site, the post stated, the enterprise was approached by federal and Maryland health officers to run a 2nd monoclonal web page and quick-testing centre outdoors FedEx Industry future to a condition-operate PCR tests facility. “As of Oct, we have been obtaining 15% of the condition allocation of monoclonal antibodies,” Elfenbein informed the journal.
In saying Elfenbein’s indictment, the Maryland U.S. attorney’s place of work stated he was amongst 18 people today throughout the United States indicted in alleged fraud techniques that resulted in over $149 million in COVID-similar fake billings to federal applications and theft from guidance programs.
“It is unconscionable that this defendant sought to line his very own pockets for the duration of a world-wide pandemic by grossly overbilling Medicare and other insurers for these very important health treatment services throughout a time of national crisis,” FBI Specific Agent in Cost Thomas Sobocinski claimed in a information release. “If the allegations from Dr. Elfenbein, and the 17 many others that had been billed nowadays are demonstrated, they should really be ashamed of their perform and will be held accountable for their prison steps.”
If convicted, Elfenbein would confront a highest of 10 years in federal prison for every of the a few counts. The indictment claims he was “aided and abetted by . . . many others known and unfamiliar to the Grand Jury,” but it did not identify any of them.
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