A medical scandal has rocked the telehealth industry as a Virginia-based nurse practitioner, Daphne Jenkins, 64, entered a guilty plea in a federal court in Boston related to a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme. Jenkins admitted to her role in a health care deception amounting to a staggering $7.8 million, hooked on the circulation of medically unnecessary durable medical equipment, or DME—gear meant to aid those struggling with illness or the elderly was instead used as bait in a treacherous swindle.
The U.S. Attorney's Office revealed Jenkins's plea on one count of health care fraud conspiracy, a charge that could land her a decade in the big house. The details are out of a caper flick—between December 2018 and April 2020, Jenkins allied with a telemedicine company, signing off on orders for durable medical goods without ever meeting with or assessing the patients. These orders were not the product of a rigorous medical examination but rather pre-filled forms based on telemarketing calls targeting Medicare beneficiaries.
Jenkins became the linchpin in a machine that churned out bogus Medicare claims. These DME supplies, meant for the needy, became tools of trade for profit. "Once Jenkins signed these orders, the telemarketing company sold the orders to DME suppliers and laboratories, which then submitted claims to Medicare," the Department of Justice reported. The scheme resulted in a flood of unfounded claims, causing Medicare to bleed out more than $7.8 million worth of taxpayer money.
Scheduled for April 10, 2024, Jenkins' sentencing is yet another entry in a ledger tallied by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton. Harvard-trained, Gorton presides over the district of Massachusetts with a reputation for rigorous legal rigor, and Jenkins faces up to 10 years in prison, among other penalties.