CBS News has uncovered a scam operating at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. Cockerell Dermatopathology, a lab in Dallas, Tx, had performed the unrequested tests and billed Tricare using deceptive practices. Makeshift clinics, set up in strip malls, offered U.S. Service Members a $50 Walmart giftcard in exchange for a DNA specimen. Lines were coiled around the buildings everyday. Those specimens were then sent to Cockerell Dermatopathology to be tested and those tests were then billed to taxpayer-funded Tricare.
The Service Members were told their specimens were being collected for “clinical research” however, a large number of them were genetically tested or screened for various drugs, all at the taxpayers’ expense.
It has been estimated that up to $5 million was paid to Origen Laboratories, which at the time was controlled by Cockerell Dermatopathology. The latter denies any wrong doing and has stated, “When Origen became aware that certain individuals were operating outside of the organization’s strict compliance requirements regarding the manner in which laboratory services are marketed, we took immediate action, including terminating individuals and relationships with those that acted in violation of the laboratory’s compliance policies,” they wrote in a statement on their website. “We are also voluntarily refunding monies resulting from these activities. In no case did Origen or Cockerell profit from these activities as suggested by the CBS story.”
Fraud scandals are nothing new to Tricare, in 2015 it recouped $61.2 in repayments through settlements and judgments.