California healthcare provider settles $26M suit over fake COVID test results

California healthcare provider settles $26M suit over fake COVID test results
AP Photo/Brittainy Newman

A California-based rapid COVID testing company named Sameday Health was quite popular during the height of the pandemic. They guaranteed patients that they could deliver test results in just 24 hours, a critical service when testing was mandatory in much of the state for millions of people. And they did deliver results in a timely fashion. There was just one problem, however. In many cases, the test results they issued were completely fake. This week in Los Angeles, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that Sameday Health had agreed to pay $26 million in restitution and penalties. The company will also be barred from providing similar services in the future. (CBS Los Angeles)

A Venice-based COVID-testing chain has agreed to a $26 million settlement to settle allegations that it faked and forged test results, and engaged in false advertising and insurance fraud.

The settlement announced Thursday by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer requires Sameday Health, its CEO Felix Huettenbach, and Los Angeles-based Dr. Jeff Toll to pay nearly $26.5 million, which includes more than $12.4 million in restitution and almost $14 million in civil penalties for their roles in the scam. Sameday Health, Huettenbach, and Toll also agreed to permanent injunctions prohibiting them from again engaging in the unlawful business practices alleged in the complaint, and Huettenbach will no longer be allowed access any test result or medical record of a Sameday Health customer.

“It’s beyond outrageous that anyone would falsify COVID tests, as we allege happened here. If you get a negative test, you assume it’s safe to go to work, visit family and friends, or take a vacation,” Feuer said in a statement.

This was quite the scam that the company had going and they cashed in on it in a big way. The methods they employed (and admitted to) make it sound as if they weren’t really even trying to put on a good front. Sameday Health “faked, falsified, and forged” test results in at least 500 cases, and those are just the ones that have been identified so far. In many cases, they sent out results before the patient’s test had been run or even delivered to their labs. In other instances, the tests were never run, with the samples simply being discarded.

The City Attorney is correct in stating that this could potentially have had consequential negative impacts on communities. Anyone receiving a negative test result would have assumed that they were in the clear to go to work or engage in any other allowed activities. But they might have been spreading the virus around when they could have been quarantined at home.

The real implications of these findings go further than that, however. We have already learned about the tens or hundreds of thousands of instances of people selling forged CDC vaccination cards. Many others simply forged them themselves because it was so ridiculously easy to do. And now we’ve discovered at least one supposedly legitimate medical testing company that was sending out bogus negative test results. You have to ask yourself exactly how much “safety” the government was able to ensure for the public with all of this fakery going on.

Many people complied with the lockdown rules, whether they were actually beneficial or not. Others went about disregarding the rules because the government couldn’t figure out a way to make the system secure and less prone to fraud. They did the same thing with all of the COVID relief money they put out there, particularly in the Paycheck Protection Program. And it all happened because they were in such a rush to show everyone that they were “doing something.” But they didn’t take the time to get it right and prevent abuses such as the many we have seen.

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