Los Angeles reached a $22.5 million settlement with Sameday Health—a COVID-19 testing company the city alleged forged hundreds of coronavirus test results and conducted insurance fraud, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced on April 21.
The complaint filed by Feuer and District Attorney George Gascón accused Sameday and its CEO Felix Huettenbach of promising to deliver test results to consumers within 24 hours when it didn’t have the capacity to do so.
They also alleged that Sameday forged hundreds of COVID test results in its second weekend of operation when consumers complained of delay.
“It’s beyond outrageous that anyone would falsify COVID tests, as we allege happened here,” Feuer said in a statement. “The victims of this alleged scheme [who received fake negative test results] might unknowingly have spread COVID to others or failed to receive timely and appropriate care themselves.”
Sameday, a Venice-based company, was founded in September 2020 “to make fast, reliable, Covid testing available to everyone,” according to a company statement emailed to The Epoch Times. It currently operates 55 COVID testing locations nationwide, with 16 of them in Los Angeles County and five in the city.
The company stated that it has emerged from the problems that occurred amid high demand for COVID testing two years ago—with corrected and compliant operations now.
“In the early days, amidst the chaos of massive surges in demand for services, and shortages in supplies, we failed to meet the standards for excellence our customers deserve,” the statement read. “We have corrected the problems that arose back in 2020 and have made significant investments in compliance and systems to ensure that we meet our customers’ expectations.”
According to the statement, the settlement would allow the company’s employees “to place their focus on providing top-level service to the communities we serve.”
As a part of the settlement, Huettenbach personally is prohibited from accessing any test result or medical record belonging to any of Sameday’s customers. To ensure that consumers receive reliable test results, Sameday is also required to hire an independent monitor, according to the city attorney’s office.
Feuer also reached a $3.9 million settlement with a Los Angeles doctor, Jeff Toll, for allegedly engaging in insurance fraud as a partner of Sameday. The complaint stated that Sameday charges the so-called “medical consultations” fee from the insurance companies when the company steered consumers to this doctor for unnecessary consults.
According to the complaint, Sameday was accused of submitting tens of thousands of claims to insurers for such medical consultations, allegedly making millions of dollars from insurance claims in California in a year.
Toll did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An attorney representing Toll told the Los Angeles Times, “We settled the matter, but we do not believe that Dr. Toll did anything that was unethical.”
The settlement requires the defendants to pay restitution and civil penalties and prohibits them from participating in the activities alleged by the city’s complaints, according to the city attorney’s office.
Feuer referred to the settlement as “[the city’s] most significant consumer protection case to emerge from the pandemic,” which will “stop this alleged scheme, give restitution to consumers and insurers, and impose severe penalties [on responsible parties].”