Telemedicine remains on the government’s list of enforcement priorities.  The DOJ announced that nurse practitioner Daphne Jenkins pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud for her role in a $7.8 million telemedicine scheme. CG attorneys previously discussed the increase in use of telemedicine and telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the necessity for healthcare providers toensure compliance with applicable laws and pay close attention to potential fraud and abuse risks.

Similar to “Operation Brace Yourself” in 2019, which was one of the largest health care fraud schemes involving telemedicine,the government alleged that Jenkins was  involved in a scheme where illegal kickbacks were made in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment (“DME”). According to court documents,Jenkins signed pre-populated orders for medically unnecessary DME based on telemarketing calls made to Medicare beneficiaries between December 2018 and April 2020. However, Jenkins neither contacted the Medicare beneficiaries nor had an established medical relationship with the beneficiaries. Jenkinssigned orders based on telemarketing calls without even reading them. In turn, $7.8 million in claims were submitted to the government for medically unnecessary DME.

Jenkins was charged on October 6, 2023, and now faces up to 10 years in prison. In addition to prison time, Jenkins could receive a maximum of three years of supervised release after her prison term and “a fine up to $250,000 or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss, whichever is greater”.

The government has continued to build on telemedicineenforcement actions since Operation Brace Yourself, and it appears that the government will continue targeting abuse of telemedicine technologies. The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection health care fraud and government investigations. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.