A Miami jury convicted a Florida nurse practitioner in federal court of defrauding Medicare out of more than $200 million in a scheme to order and bill an astounding amount of “medically unnecessary” tests and medical devices, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Forty-five-year-old Elizabeth Hernandez of Homestead, Florida was accused of signing thousands of documents to send Medicare bills, for such things as genetic testing and orthotic braces, that a court found to be fraudulent.
The Justice Department said telemarketers acted in the scheme by contacting Medicare recipients to ask them to request genetic tests and orthotic braces. “Pre-filled orders” for the products would then be sent to Hernandez, who was convicted of signing for them, saying she had performed examinations on the Medicare beneficiaries to treat them for the conditions.
The U.S. government said Hernandez had never spoken to many of the patients on her roster.
The Justice Department said the Florida nurse practitioner ordered so many cancer genetic tests in 2020 meant for Medicare recipients that she became highest in order volume among all providers in the entire United States — even outnumbering orders from oncologists and geneticists.
The DOJ said Hernandez was convicted by a Miami jury on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, along with four other counts of health care fraud and three counts of making false statements.
She faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy count, along with 10 years in prison for each of the fraud counts plus five years for each false statement count. Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced in December.