MEDI-CAL: Three Lab Owners Charged in Billing Racket
In the latest round of Medi-Cal fraud prosecutions, the owners of a Huntington Beach lab were charged Wednesday with operating a fraudulent practice that collected more than $1.5 million for blood tests that were never performed, the Los Angeles Times reports. Court documents filed by the California attorney general's office state that for more than six months Imran Shams, Lourdes Navarro and Zubair Younis -- three business partners operating under the name Hospital Circle Medical Laboratories -- submitted bogus claims to Medi-Cal. The reimbursement documents were submitted using patient names and identification numbers obtained through the "black market." Noting that investigators have seized more than $500,000 in cash assets from the business, Collin Wong, director of Attorney General Bill Lockyer's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, said, "A lot of these laboratories ... create a facade that they are doing legitimate work. ... In this particular case, they didn't even make an effort to mask their fraudulent activities." The three partners were charged with money laundering and fraud, as well as identity theft because they had used the names of legitimate health care providers to support their claims. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $1 million in criminal fines. The arrests are the latest in an ongoing FBI probe into an estimated $1 billion of Medi-Cal fraud. In recent weeks, the Times reports, the investigation's focus shifted from Los Angeles-area medical supply businesses to dental services and laboratories (Ellis, 1/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.