A man who dubbed himself a “serial entrepreneur” is the target of a complaint alleging he violated the False Claims Act by submitting more than 24,000 false claims to Medicare for more than 300,000 respiratory pathogen panel tests that were not ordered by healthcare providers, not medically necessary, or never performed. The defendants billed and received more than $7 million in reimbursement from Medicare before the scheme fell apart.
According to the complaint, Patrick Britton-Harr owned and operated Maryland-based Provista Health LLC, as well as multiple other corporate entities that allegedly sought to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic by offering free COVID-19 tests to nursing homes. The free tests served as an entry way to to bill Medicare for a wide range of medically unnecessary respiratory pathogen panel (RPP) tests.
“The defendants effectively ordered, performed, and billed Medicare for respiratory pathogen tests for virtually all of the residents at the nursing homes with which they contracted,” the complaint states.
However, “despite dangling the carrot of no-cost COVID-19 tests, defendants never actually had the ability to perform COVID-19 testing themselves. Instead, defendants sent all of the COVID-19 test samples to outside laboratories,” the complaint states. This created various weeks-long delays in getting test results to a vulnerable population.
The complaint alleges that these RPP tests were not medically necessary because those tested had no symptoms of a respiratory illness and because the tests were for uncommon respiratory pathogens. Furthermore, multiple physicians denied ever ordering the thousands of RPP tests for which claims were submitted to Medicare. Not only were many of the tests not performed, but the complaint alleges that one nasal swab sample was collected from a beneficiary on a date after the patient had died.
A Fort Lauderdale attorney suing that company on behalf of two clients claimed its actions have the “hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme.”
The scheme eventually fell apart when the defendant no longer had a functioning lab and were unable to find a reference lab that would agree to an arrangement where the reference lab would perform the COVID-19 and respiratory pathogen panel tests, while Provista submitted those claims to Medicare and paid the reference lab a portion of the proceeds, according to the complaint.
The other entities included in the complaint are AMS Onsite Inc., Britton-Harr Enterprises Inc., Coastal Laboratories Inc. and Coastal Management Group Inc. Britton-Harr served as the Chief Executive Officer of all of the companies.
In late summer of 2020, Britton-Harr transferred the proceeds from the fraudulent scheme to his other companies and abandoned the healthcare industry. Britton-Harr then used some of the money to lease or purchase various aircrafts, and founded a new company headquartered in both Annapolis, Maryland, and Sarasota called Aerovanti that provides private charter airplane service.
According to published reports, Britton-Harr recently resigned as CEO and as chairman of Aerovanti’s board after the company was inundated with complaints that it defrauded members out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and had its fleet grounded and planes repossessed.
Are you a target of a healthcare fraud investigation? With more than 40 years of experience, the Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale can assist you. Just looking for compliance advice, speak with our compliance expert. Schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation by calling 305-358-4500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org