Maryland doctor accused of filing fraudulent Medicare claims for COVID testing

A Maryland doctor who ran COVID-19 drive-though testing sites in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges he defrauded Medicare.

Dr. Ron Elfenbein, 47, of Arnold, was the owner of Drs ERgent Care, LLC, which operated First Call Medical Center and Chesapeake ERgent Care Center. Prosecutors accuse him of instructing employees at his COVID testing sites to overbill Medicare and other insurers for the services provided.

According to the Department of Justice, Elfenbein told his staff to bill for office visits that lasted over 30 minutes, even though COVID test visits lasted five minutes or less. In all, prosecutors claim Elfenbein submitted claims worth $1.5 million for office visits that were not provided and not eligible for reimbursement.

“It is unconscionable that this defendant sought to line his own pockets during a global pandemic by grossly overbilling Medicare and other insurers for these vital healthcare services during a time of national crisis,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski in a statement.

If convicted, Elfenbein faces up to 10 years in prison.

Elfenbein was among 18 people charged in a nationwide probe of alleged health care fraud connected to COVID-19.

Among those charged were two people accused of misusing money given to frontline medical providers as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed in 2020.

Others were accused of exploiting policies that were put in place by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to increase access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DOJ crackdown also led to charges against people who created, marketed and sold phony COVID vaccination cards. In a separate announcement, the DOJ said Amar Salim Shabazz, 23, of Owings Mills, Maryland, has been accused of handing out fake cards.

Anyone aware of similar fraudulent activity can call the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721 or file an online complaint.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misstated the amount in fraudulent claims that prosecutors say Elfenbein submitted. The story has been corrected and updated. 

 

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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