An Illinois-based COVID-19 testing company called the Center for COVID Control is being sued along with its partner lab, Doctors Clinical Laboratory, by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who alleges they give people fake COVID-19 test results or fail to give any results at all.
Minnesota’s legal action comes amid an investigation into the partner lab by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Illinois Department of Public Health, according to Block Club Chicago. The CMS found noncompliance and deficiencies at the lab, the outlet reported, saying it was in “immediate jeopardy” after workers were observed not following procedures for rapid tests and mistakes prevented tens of thousands of PCR tests from being processed.
The Center for COVID Control has over 275 in-person testing sites across the US, according to its website, which advertises free at-home, rapid and PCR testing.
Several outlets have reported complaints from people who’ve been to a Center for COVID Control testing site, including Block Club Chicago. Complaints include waiting weeks for results or getting a negative test result at the Center for COVID Control while testing positive at another site on the same day. One report from Block Club shows biohazardous waste at a facility being thrown away like normal trash and details an employee’s account of workers sharing customer information over WhatsApp.
The Minnesota lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that Doctors Clinical Laboratory sent the state’s Department of Health COVID-19 test results that showed a positivity rate of 74% — over 10 times the state’s rate during the same period.
The lawsuit also alleges the owners of the companies may be overcharging the federal government for what it’s supposed to pay for COVID-19 tests for the uninsured. The drop-down menu for patient insurance information, the lawsuit says, didn’t contain most insurance companies actually available in Minnesota, steering employees to select the default “uninsured” option. Doctors Clinical Laboratory has billed the federal government for over $113 million for reimbursement nationwide, the lawsuit says.
The Center for COVID Control announced on Jan. 14 it was stopping testing and planned to reopen on Saturday, acknowledging an “operational strain on customer access and delivery of results/status in some locations.” The Center for COVID Control also said it would use the pause for more staff training, among other things.
The Center for COVID Control and Doctors Clinical Laboratory didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
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