The Justice Department has filed a complaint against Patrick Britton-Harr and multiple laboratory companies owned by him alleging False Claims Act violations for submitting claims to Medicare for laboratory tests that were not ordered by health care providers, not medically necessary, and sometimes never performed.
According to the complaint, Britton-Harr owned and operated Provista Health LLC as well as multiple other corporate entities that allegedly sought to profit from the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic by offering COVID-19 tests to nursing homes as a way to bill Medicare for a wide array of medically unnecessary respiratory pathogen panel (RPP) tests. The complaint alleges that these RPP tests were not medically necessary because the beneficiaries had no symptoms of a respiratory illness and because the tests were for uncommon respiratory pathogens.
The complaint also alleges that Britton-Harr and Provista Health submitted claims for RPP tests that were never ordered by physicians. Multiple physicians denied ever ordering the thousands of RPP tests for which Britton-Harr and Provista Health allegedly submitted claims to Medicare listing one of these physicians as the ordering provider. The complaint further alleges that Britton-Harr and Provista Health submitted claims to Medicare for RPP tests that were never performed, including over 300 claims that stated that the nasal swab test sample was supposedly collected from the beneficiary on a date after the beneficiary had died.
As alleged in the complaint, Britton-Harr wholly owned and operated Provista Health, AMS Onsite Inc., Britton-Harr Enterprises Inc., Coastal Laboratories Inc. and Coastal Management Group Inc., and these companies – together with Britton-Harr – conspired to carry out these schemes.
“The Department of Justice is committed to holding accountable individuals and entities who exploited the COVID-19 pandemic for their own illicit purposes,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will continue to protect our federal health care programs, their beneficiaries, and taxpayers from fraud and abuse.”
“The complaint alleges that these individuals and their companies took advantage of a national health crisis to line their own pockets,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland. “Our office has and will continue to bring to justice those who used the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud individuals or the government.”
“Providers who saw the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity for illegal profit undermine the goals and integrity of critical public health measures,” said Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Christian J. Schrank of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “HHS-OIG remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who attempt to defraud these crucial public health measures and steal money from federal health care programs.”
“Patrick Britton-Harr and his co-conspirators took advantage of vulnerable adults during the public health emergency,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “The FBI and its partners will continue to aggressively investigate those who try to exploit the American people and swindle funds for their own profit.”
The United States’ pursuit of this lawsuit illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud. One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act. Tips and complaints from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, at 800‑HHS‑TIPS (800-447-8477).
This matter is being handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, Fraud Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. Investigative support is being provided by HHS-OIG and the FBI. The allegations in the complaint were identified by a government investigation that arose from a proactive analysis of Medicare claims data.
The Civil Division's Fraud Section Trial Attorneys Jonathan Hoerner and Vincent Vaccarella and Assistant U.S. Attorney/Deputy Civil Chief Tarra DeShields for the District of Maryland are handling this case.
The claims in the complaint are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.