Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes gets 90-year ban from HHS

HHS has banned Elizabeth Holmes, incarcerated founder of blood-testing company Theranos, from participating in any federal healthcare program for the next 90 years. 

According to a Jan. 19 news release from HHS' Office of Inspector General, Ms. Holmes will be unable to bill Medicare, Medicaid or any other federal program. Ms. Holmes is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence after being convicted of defrauding investors in Theranos. The company claimed to be able to screen for hundreds of conditions with a single drop of blood. 

During Ms. Holmes' trial, the government presented evidence that Ms. Holmes knew Theranos' technology could only screen for a small number of diseases and that its results were less accurate than traditional blood tests, according to HHS' news release. 

The minimum ban from federal health programs for Ms. Holmes' sentence is five years, according to the release, but HHS increased her ban based on aggravating factors, including "length of time the acts were committed, incarceration, and the amount of restitution ordered to be paid," according to the release. In addition to her prison sentence, Ms. Holmes was ordered to pay $452 million in restitution. 

HHS also excluded Ramesh Balwani, Theranos' president and COO, from federal programs for 90 years. Mr. Balwani is serving a 12-year prison sentence for his role in the scheme. 

"False statements related to the reliability of these medical products can endanger the health of patients and sow distrust in our healthcare system," HHS Inspector General Christi Grimm said. "As technology evolves, so do our efforts to safeguard the health and safety of patients, and HHS-OIG will continue to use its exclusion authority to protect the public from bad actors." 

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