In April 2023, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a national takedown focused on $490 million in alleged COVID-19 related health care fraud resulting in criminal charges against 18 individuals in nine federal districts across the country (2023 Takedown).
Consistent with DOJ’s past COVID-19 enforcement efforts, the 2023 Takedown was focused on vaccine-related fraud schemes (such as selling false and/or counterfeit vaccine cards) and government-contracting fraud (such as fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications).
However, the 2023 Takedown included some new twists on these now common COVID-19 enforcement themes.
In particular, the 2023 Takedown demonstrated DOJ’s increasing focus on alleged fraud against HRSA’s COVID-19 Uninsured Program, which provided reimbursement to providers for uninsured and underinsured patients’ COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and treatment.
Significant cases brought by DOJ in the 2023 Takedown (totaling hundreds of millions in alleged fraud) focus primarily on providers who allegedly billed HRSA for medically unnecessary treatment, services that were not actually rendered, or for services to patients who actually had insurance but the providers failed to properly verify their uninsured status.