NEW YORK – The US Department of Justice said Thursday a Florida nurse practitioner has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for submitting $192 million in fraudulent claims for unnecessary genetic tests and medical equipment and for telemedicine consultations that were not provided.
Elizabeth Hernandez was convicted in September of healthcare fraud, false statements, and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud. Prosecutors said she signed thousands of orders for unnecessary genetic tests and orthotic braces for Medicare beneficiaries and falsely claimed that she had examined or treated those patients, while often having others sign fraudulent orders in her name.
According to the DOJ, Hernandez was part of a telemarking operation that convinced Medicare beneficiaries to accept orthotic braces and genetic tests and submitted orders that contained false descriptions of symptoms and injuries. In 2020, she ordered the most cancer genetic tests for Medicare beneficiaries of any care provider in the US, and she billed Medicare as though the tests were conducted through complex office visits. She also often billed for more than 24 hours of telemedicine consultations in a single day, according to the department.
Hernandez received about $1.6 million through the scheme, prosecutors said.