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New Tampa clinic CEO to pay $185,000 for role in Medicare scheme

The CEO of a weight loss and hormone therapy clinic was paid to send bloodwork to a Texas lab firm, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Brett Markowitz, founder and CEO of AgeRejuvenation will pay $185,000 to the federal government and cooperate with federal investigators to settle allegations of accepting illegal kickbacks to send blood samples to a laboratory.
Brett Markowitz, founder and CEO of AgeRejuvenation will pay $185,000 to the federal government and cooperate with federal investigators to settle allegations of accepting illegal kickbacks to send blood samples to a laboratory. [ Youtube.com ]
Published May 10|Updated May 10

TAMPA — The CEO of a New Tampa weight loss and hormone replacement therapy clinic has agreed to pay a $185,000 settlement to the federal government to resolve allegations that he took part in a kickback scheme built on false claims made to Medicare and other federal programs.

Brett Markowitz, the founder and CEO of AgeRejuvenation, received payments as an incentive to direct patient blood samples to a Texas lab, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. He was named as a recipient of the illegal kickbacks, along with ten Texas doctors who combined must pay about $1.6 million to the federal government and cooperate with ongoing litigation against others involved in the scheme.

“Health care providers engaging in kickback schemes undermine both the public’s trust in medical institutions and the financial integrity of federal health care programs,” said Miranda Bennett, special agent in charge at the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, in a statement. “Working with our law enforcement partners, our agency is committed to thoroughly investigating such allegations of fraud.”

Related: BayCare pays $20 million for improperly boosting Medicaid payments

Between October 2016 and February 2019, Markowitz’s clinic — then known as Tampa Rejuvenation — sent blood samples and other lab work to The Blood Spot, a lab associated with and controlled in part by True Health Diagnostics LLC, and through Express Mobile Labs, LLC, a company that Markowitz partly controlled, the Justice Department said.

The payments were disguised as a “processing and handling” fee of $25 to $35 charged for each sample. The fee was added to the invoice for the lab work, but federal officials said Markowitz knew True Health would pay back some of all of the fee to him “directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind.”

True Health, which is based in Frisco, Texas, then made claims based on the inflated invoices to Medicare and other federal health care programs. Justice Department officials said the scheme violated both the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Law, which forbids a hospital or laboratory from billing Medicare for certain services referred by physicians or others who have a financial relationship with the hospital or laboratory.

AgeRejuvenation operates clinics in Brandon, Wesley Chapel, Westchase, South Tampa and Winter Park, according to its website. Markowitz did not respond to three messages the Tampa Bay Times left with employees at his clinic and two emails seeking comment.

The Better Business Bureau records 13 complaints filed against the company over a 2-year period, including concerns about billing for repeated bloodwork.

The settlement is part of a larger federal investigation into medical fraud. The Justice Department recently filed a complaint in a Texas federal court naming two laboratory CEOs, one hospital CEO and others as defendants in a similar kickback scheme that also involved True Health and two other labs.

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Lab work from the scheme was billed to Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE and, in many cases, involved tests that were not reasonable and necessary, the complaint states.

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