Two Laboratory Owners To Plead Guilty in $19 Million Medi-Cal Fraud Case
The owners of a Glendale medical laboratory yesterday agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and money-laundering for billing Medi-Cal $19 million for "bogus" blood tests, the Los Angeles Times reports. Luisa Gonzalez and Juan Carlos Ciraolo admitted to the "biggest fraud of its kind in the history" of Medi-Cal, according to state authorities (Rosenzweig, Los Angeles Times, 10/3). The two defendants operated the Los Angeles Bio-Clinical Laboratory and "falsely billed" Medi-Cal for blood tests, when the blood "had been bought from unidentified outsiders" (Ventura County Star, 10/2). According to the indictment, the defendants "obtained confidential information about patients and doctors enrolled in Medi-Cal" over a three-year period. The laboratory performed tests on blood purchased from donors off the street and used the confidential information to bill Medi-Cal for the tests. The defendants often billed Medi-Cal for the most expensive blood tests, reimbursable at $550 per test. The lab, which closed in 1997, submitted reimbursement bills that totaled $40 million, half of which were fraudulent, the indictment said (California Healthline, 12/21/00). The state has not recovered the funds. The state began to investigate the case after a Medi-Cal employee raised concerns when bills submitted by the lab increased from "very little to many millions of dollars" (Los Angeles Times, 10/3). The two defendants will enter their pleas on Oct. 7. They face up to 15 years in prison (Ventura County Star, 10/2).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.