Kentucky drug lab paid kickbacks for referrals, physician says

Psychiatrist Varanise Booker, MD, pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud in a kickback scheme for referring Medicare and Medicaid patients to the now-closed Universal Oral Fluid Labs in Greensburg, Pa., according to a Justice Department statement.

Dr. Booker received more than $843,000 in kickbacks.

William Hughes, the former owner of the clinical drug testing and screening lab, was sentenced in July to 60 days in prison followed by 12 months of home confinement for his part in the scheme.

Hughes was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, forfeit more than $750,000 in seized assets and pay $1.67 million back to the Kentucky Medicaid Program, according to a report by TribLive.

In 2019, four doctors agreed to settle similar allegations involving the drug lab, according to the report, paying a combined total of more than $1.6 million.

Dr. Booker operated a behavioral health practice in Louisville, Ky., and admitted to referring patients for unnecessary drug testing and other services to Mr. Hughes' lab between October 2011 and August 2013, according to the Justice Department statement.

Dr. Booker admitted she didn't record the results of some tests, failed to address the results of those tests in the treatment of her patients, and defrauded Kentucky Medicaid of between $15,000 and $40,000, the Justice Department said.

She will be sentenced Feb. 10 and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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