Shuttered Center for Covid Control faces new lawsuit over reported testing issues
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Complaints about the Center for Covid Control are mounting, and now the nationwide COVID-testing company, which has five locations in Arizona, is facing a new lawsuit. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson accuses the company and its independent lab, Doctors Clinical Laboratory, of “contributing to the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus” by failing to provide accurate test results to patients. The lawsuit alleges the company stored some tests in garbage bags and did not test some samples.
The suit also claims the company improperly collected personal information and billed the federal government for tests that should have been covered by insurance companies. According to Ferguson, employees were instructed to mark some patients as uninsured, even if they had insurance. “Doctors Clinical Laboratory has billed the federal government over $124 million for COVID-19 tests provided to allegedly-uninsured patients across the nation,” according to the lawsuit.
As 3 On Your Side reported, the Arizona Attorney General’s office is “looking into” the Center for Covid Control. The FBI searched the company’s Illinois headquarters last month, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also investigating. “CMS is actively investigating numerous complaints about multiple laboratories and testing sites associated with the Center for Covid Control,” Dr. Lee Fleisher, the chief medical officer and director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality at CMS. said in a statement. “We know that people want to feel confident that the testing sites they visit are reputable and the results they receive are accurate.” CMS said it could take enforcement actions but did not provide specifics, saying the Center for Covid Control voluntarily shut down indefinitely.
Shilah Newson had not heard about the closure and showed up at the company’s Glendale location Tuesday, hoping to take a COVID test. “I need to get COVID testing done right away just so I can go back to work to provide for my family,” she told 3 On Your Side. She said she was surprised to find the door locked. “I just Googled ‘COVID rapid testing,’ and you go online, and you go from there,” she said. “I was kind of confused about the website itself because it was saying that they were closed until Jan. 21. It’s February, so I figured it would be OK, but no, I guess they’re not open.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services does not license testing facilities and has not received complaints about the Center for Covid Control, according to agency spokesperson Steve Elliot. “While the Center for Covid Control reached out to us to set up reporting, we have not received testing results from this entity,” Elliot said in an email to 3 On Your Side. The Oregon Health Authority said it has not received test results from the Center for Covid Control either.
“If someone went to the Center for Covid Control for a test and did not receive a result, ADHS recommends they seek testing at a different location if they are still symptomatic or within 10 days of exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual,” Elliot said. ADHS also suggests consumers who are concerned about the legitimacy of a testing provider request credentials, including a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) license, which should be posted.
3 On Your Side has reached out to the Center for Covid Control, but phone calls and emails have not been returned.
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