Three North Texas Labs Indicted in $300 Million Kickback Fraud

Salary offsets, lease assistance, and spousal payments were all part of the scheme.
D Magazine, By Will Maddox, Feb. 14, 2022

Two physicians and eight others have been indicted by the U.S. Attorney for a $300 million kickback scheme connected to several lab companies that allegedly paid medical professionals to order unnecessary tests at their labs.

These schemes are quite common yet difficult to catch because of the massive amount of data that flows through federal healthcare programs.  Investigators use advanced algorithms to detect irregular billing patterns and depend on whistleblowers to turn in their coworkers.  Investigators and law enforcement can often only stop the most egregious practices.  The pandemic has increased lab activity, and many have been caught bundling COVID-19 tests with other more expensive and unnecessary lab services and defrauding federal payers.  North Texas is on the leading edge of prosecuting healthcare fraud, working to stop the ploys representing about 3 percent of all healthcare spending each year.

The indictment names several lab companies, including Unified Laboratory Services, Spectrum Diagnostic Laboratory, and Reliable Labs.  They are accused of offering or paying illegal kickbacks in a 26-count document.  The unnecessary tests were billed to Medicare and other federal healthcare programs, while the labs paid bribes to providers, including internal medicine physician Dr. Eduardo Canova, family medicine practitioner Dr. Jose Maldonado, and nurse practitioner Keith Wichinski.  The providers are based in South Texas.  United was in Fort Worth, Spectrum was in Arlington, and Reliable was in Carrollton.

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