DALLAS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas doctor is charged with ordering millions of dollars worth of unnecessary expensive cancer genetic screening for patients he never examined or even spoke to.
According to federal investigators, Dr. Daniel Canchola of Flower Mound allegedly received kickbacks for the orders he signed while patients often never received the test results.
Canchola pleaded not guilty Monday in federal court to charges of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and wire fraud.
The Texas doctor is one of 35 individuals charged in a nationwide Medicare fraud bust by federal law enforcement.
Canchola was released without bond but is required to turn in his passport.
Federal prosecutors requested Canchola not be allowed to submit any Medicare claims as part of his conditions of release but a judge denied that request.
According to federal investigators, Chancola was a key part of an alleged genetic testing scheme uncovered by a CBS News investigation.
From January 2018 until March 2019, Canchola submitted $69 million in false and fraudulent Medicare claims, according to federal court records.
Ken and Judy Johnson, retirees from Austin, were at an art festival in Fort Lauderdale last October where they were stopped by recruiters representing a company called Genexe Health.
The recruiter told them with a simple swab of the inside of their cheek, the company could have their DNA tested. The test would show them if they carried any genes that made a cancer diagnosis more likely.
“I had cancer six years ago. They indicated that they could give us some results that if it’s genetic, that it could be passed on to my children,” Judy told CBS News.
The Johnsons were told the tests wouldn’t cost them anything. Medicare would foot the bill.
A year later, they still haven’t received their results
But Judy’s Medicare account was charged more than $10,000 and Ken’s account was charged more than $8,000 by the lab.
“I mean, it hits me that we’ve been taken,” Judy said.
CBS News went undercover to figure out how the scheme works
Before Medicare will pay for the lab to process the swab, a doctor needs to sign the test order. So recruiters partner with willing labs and doctors who will sign off that the test is medically necessary.
Recruiters and doctors both received kickbacks or bribes, according to federal court records.
Canchola allegedly asked for $30 for every test he ordered.
When CBS News senior investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod tracked down Canchola at his office before the doctor’s arrest, Canchola declined to answer questions including whether he knew the Johnsons.