Today’s Miami Herald [limited access] is reporting that there are on-going scams targeting the elderly by doing unnecessary DNA tests on them, with the intent of committing Medicare fraud. The article states, “Genetic testing . . . has become so corrupted by racketeers that the Justice Department recently unveiled its first nationwide take-down of 35 suspects accused of fraudulently billing $2.1 billion to Medicare.”
The article outlines the case of Richard Garipoli, of Loxahatchee, Florida (located in Palm Beach County). He is the owner of Lotus Health, a telemedicine company. According to the report, he is “currently charged with defrauding Medicare and receiving kickbacks while collaborating with labs that billed more than $326 million for Cancer Genomic tests, known as CGx tests. The Medicare program paid more than $84 million to the labs, located in Georgia and Pennsylvania, which in turn paid kickbacks to Garipoli and other unnamed co-conspirators between January 2017 and September 2019 . . .”
This report is another reminder that the seemingly endless attempts to bring down health care costs in this country (especially as we approach another election season) will not be successful unless such large-scale fraud is stopped. Additionally, it continues to be troubling that these types of scams single out the elderly. Targeting those among the most vulnerable, in an effort to defraud the government, is a violation of the most basic principles of bioethics. It is now in the government’s interest not only to recoup these funds, but to take measures to reassure our elderly citizens that they can expect to be safe from scams in their twilight years.