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Brad Matthews


NextImg:Maryland man convicted of COVID-19 test billing fraud scheme against insurers

An Arnold, Maryland doctor was convicted Friday for a fraud scheme in which his employees were directed to bill for high-level medical visits along with COVID-19 tests, the Justice Department announced.

Through the scheme, Ron Elfenbein, 49, defrauded Medicare and other insurers of over $15 million. Elfenbein was the owner of Drs ERgent Care, which did business as First Call Medical Center and Chesapeake ERgent Care.

Drs ERgent Care ran drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties in Maryland, serving primarily asymptomatic people who wanted to be certain of their COVID-19 status as well as those required to test for travel or work.

As part of that work, Elfenbein explained to his employees that patients were “there for one reason only – to be tested,” and that Drs ERgent Care was “not there to solve complex medical issues,” as quoted by the Justice Department.

However, Elfenbein also instructed employees to tack on health management and evaluation visits with higher billing codes, despite explicitly not providing those services at the drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites. 

Elfenbein was convicted on five counts of healthcare fraud, and faces up to 10 years in prison on each count when he is sentenced on Nov. 7, 2023. 

Elfenbein is also the first doctor convicted by the Justice Department at trial for fraudulent billing regarding visits for COVID-19 testing.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.