A Florida doctor is sounding the alarm on what she says could be a case of massive Medicare fraud. Sarasota Doctor Sherri Weinstein says she has seen four patients in the last week who have been sent COVID-19 rapid test kits that they did not ask for.
"It is Medicare fraud. Absolutely. There is no more Emergency Use Authorization for Covid tests," Weinstein told The Floridian.
The Emergency Use Authorization for COVID tests expired along with the National Emergency Declaration on May 11. This means as of May 12, 2023, Medicare no longer covers or pays for COVID-19 tests for those with Medicare Part B benefits.
Carol Arscott, a retiree living in Sarasota, said she found a package in front of her door shortly after July 4.
"I opened the package and found four boxes of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests," Arscott told The Floridian. "I never ordered any COVID tests in my life and never plan to."
Two weeks later, Arscott says she received two Medicare Part B notices stating the tests had been charged to Medicare for a total of $240.
"I was outraged," said Arscott. "Who knows how many times this has happened. No wonder the Federal government is going broke."
Arscott says the tests sent to her were made in Hong Kong and were passed the expiration date.
Weinstein says the tests are not accurate because they only test for an earlier strain of COVID.
"The test kits are not even accurate to test for COVID," said Weinstein. "They are sending them without peoples permission and billing Medicare."
Jane Hyslop, a 72 year old woman living in Sarasota, says she has also received COVID-19 tests she did not request.
"A few weeks ago I received a COVID test kit that was made in China," Hyslop told The Floridian. "I did not ask for them. I have only been tested for COVID twice and it was through my doctor. I never ordered these tests."
Hyslop says she asked to see her Medicare chart when she went for her six week checkup.
"When I looked at my chart I saw a dozen or so charges for COVID-19 tests that I never ordered," said Hyslop. "I've only received two tests and one was sent to an old address." Hyslop says she knows the person who lives at her old address and that is how she was alerted to the test being sent there. "Not only were they charging Medicare, but they were charging $4-5 each to Aetna for the tests."
Hyslop provided The Floridian with the names of the manufacturers who sent the tests. This is the information she provided:
When The Floridan reached out to these companies, all but one had voicemail boxes that were full. A woman at Pharmacon Pharmacy in Brooklyn answered the call.
Nina, with Pharmacon, refused to give her last name but answered questions about the tests. Nina said the tests were sent as part of a government program. When asked why tests were sent to people who did not request them, Nina said a call center handles the orders and are only supposed to send tests to those who request them.
"Pharmacon acts as a fulfillment center and ships the test kits," Nina added. "Then our company bills Medicare for them."
When asked why expired test kits were sent to Medicare patients after the Emergency Use Authorization expired, Nina said this was probably because of a back log. She did not provide the name of the call center who she says sends her company the orders.
Hyslop says she reported the tests to the Medicare fraud line every time she got one
"Every time I got a test I reported it. I only heard back once through a letter thanking me for my report."
Hyslop says she takes time to request to her Medicare report when she sees her doctor.
"People need to start looking at their Medicare report and see what's on there," said Hyslop. Hyslop said she put a "Do not pay" note for any future COVID test kits but she has gotten two more sent to her since then. "I have my own Doc. Why would I order test from California?"