September 26, 2022

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Doctor overseeing coronavirus testing at Baltimore-Washington International accused of health-care fraud

5 min read

A distinguished Maryland medical professional overseeing coronavirus screening at Baltimore-Washington Intercontinental Marshall Airport and other websites in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties was indicted on Tuesday, accused by federal prosecutors of overcharging Medicare and other insurers by additional than $1.5 million.

Ron Elfenbein, 47, has been a recurrent guest on neighborhood and countrywide tv information in the course of broadcasts about coronavirus testing, treatment options and vaccines. At an August ribbon-chopping for the new clinic inside BWI, Gov. Larry Hogan, R, presented him a citation for his initiatives during the pandemic.

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Now federal prosecutors say that less than Elfenbein’s way, clinics billed Medicare and other insurers for coronavirus exams in blend with “extra rewarding, but medically pointless” providers, in accordance to a grand jury indictment. These providers “had been purportedly of a 30-moment or for a longer period duration, or involving average or significant levels of professional medical conclusion-generating, but did not in simple fact come about as represented,” the indictment claimed.

The indictment alleges Elfenbein understood lots of individuals ended up becoming seen for significantly less than five minutes but directed staffers to invoice for the larger-level solutions in any case, stating they have been “the ‘bread and butter’ of how we get compensated.”

A law firm for Elfenbein, Mike Lawlor, disputed these accusations. “In the early times of the pandemic, Dr. Ron Elfenbein rallied his doctor’s business in a time of worldwide worry, to be a leading supplier of coronavirus testing and therapy in the neighborhood” Lawlor said in an email. ” . . . A trial in this situation will establish not only that Dr. Elfenbein is innocent of the charges unexpectedly brought by the govt, but that during a time of unparalleled will need, Dr. Elfenbein and his workers saved the lives of numerous Marylanders.”

The indictment, which charges Elfenbein with three counts of health-care fraud, identifies him as an operator and clinical director of Drs ERgent Treatment, a organization that also does business beneath the names To start with Call Healthcare Middle and Chesapeake ERgent Treatment.

Drs ERgent Care was started out in 2015 and shown as its “principal workplace” the residence address of Maryland Del. Sid Saab, R-Anne-Arundel, who was shown as registered agent, corporate data clearly show. The upcoming calendar year, the handle modified and Elfenbein turned registered agent.

Saab, who attended the ribbon cutting at BWI, in January mentioned himself in a required financial disclosure as portion proprietor of Gambrills Clinical Management, which, in accordance to the disclosure, manages To start with Simply call Health-related Middle Gambrills. The latter company operates the BWI clinic, in accordance to documents managed by the Maryland Board of General public Performs. The clinic, inside the principal terminal in close proximity to Concourse C, provides unexpected emergency treatment, coronavirus testing and vaccinations, as effectively as other providers.

A LinkedIn web page for Saab, a state delegate because 2015, lists him as co-operator of a exercise center, president of a genuine estate enterprise and main executive of a organization concerned in “cherished metallic recycling” tied to the same Gambrills address as Initial Call Professional medical Center. Dan Hazelwood, a spokesman for Saab’s political marketing campaign, stated Saab had no comment.

A work listing during the earlier 12 months involved with Initial Get in touch with Health care Heart for another person to supervise a middle supplying monoclonal antibody infusions, a coronavirus remedy, explained the placement would report to Saab and Elfenbein.

A member of the Household Overall health and Government Operations Committee, Saab just lately filed to operate for state senate. He said in the monetary disclosure: “Very first Simply call Health care Center had a agreement with the Office of Health relevant to coronavirus screening and cure.”

He holds involving 25% and 49% of Gambrills Health care Administration, according to his disclosure. “Neither Gambrills Medical Management nor Initial Get in touch with obtained any resources from the State. I did not participate in any negotiations with the Condition,” the disclosure explained.

Connor Ferguson, whose LinkedIn page lists him as controlling associate of Initial Simply call Professional medical Middle, cautioned a reporter when achieved by cellular phone Friday: “Just be extremely careful – due to the fact it truly is an independent enterprise, with Dr. Elfenbein – in implicating Initial Simply call, so that’s all I am going to say. Mainly because he operates a qualified company underneath Drs ERgent Care.”

Requested if he could make clear what he meant, he replied, “Nope. Bye.”

No one at Drs ERgent Treatment or the similar providers, other than Elfenbein, has been billed or accused of any crime.

Elfenbein graduated from SUNY Upstate Health care University’s College or university of Drugs in New York in 2000. He ran unsuccessfully for Normal Assembly in 2006 and 2010, and sought to fill a vacated seat in 2015.

Right before the pandemic, Initially Call Professional medical Centre experienced about 20 personnel at a single locale, according to an posting Elfenbein was interviewed for in Upstate Clinical University’s alumni journal. As of October, the business had about 200 staff at two urgent care centers, a few coronavirus testing facilities, two monoclonal antibody infusion facilities and a coming cellular testing unit, the report explained.

“COVID-19 has impacted everybody,” Elfenbein informed the journal. “We were ready to be ahead-pondering to deliver required public wellbeing solutions. In the procedure, that authorized us to expand as a enterprise and give about 180 new employment, which is a excellent point.”

Following opening the 1st monoclonal antibody infusion web page, the write-up said, the organization was approached by federal and Maryland health and fitness officials to run a 2nd monoclonal web page and quick-testing centre outdoors FedEx Subject upcoming to a state-run PCR testing facility. “As of Oct, we were acquiring 15% of the point out allocation of monoclonal antibodies,” Elfenbein explained to the journal.

In asserting Elfenbein’s indictment, the Maryland U.S. attorney’s business office mentioned he was amongst 18 folks across the United States indicted in alleged fraud strategies that resulted in around $149 million in COVID-linked phony billings to federal plans and theft from help courses.

“It is unconscionable that this defendant sought to line his very own pockets in the course of a world pandemic by grossly overbilling Medicare and other insurers for these very important overall health care solutions during a time of national crisis,” FBI Specific Agent in Cost Thomas Sobocinski explained in a news release. “If the allegations in opposition to Dr. Elfenbein, and the 17 many others that have been billed today are demonstrated, they ought to be ashamed of their perform and will be held accountable for their legal actions.”

If convicted, Elfenbein would confront a most of 10 several years in federal jail for every single of the 3 counts. The indictment states he was “aided and abetted by . . . other folks regarded and unknown to the Grand Jury,” but it did not identify any of them.

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