Charges: Alaska doctor stole millions through unnecessary urine tests

A Southcentral Alaska doctor faces charges he over-billed Medicaid by having his patients’ urine unnecessarily tested at a lab he personally owns. At one point, the doctor allegedly received 10 times the amount of Medicaid reimbursements of the combined total of all Alaska doctors filing claims for such lab services.

A grand jury indicted Dr. John Zipperer and his self-titled corporation Wednesday on the felony charges, including medical assistance fraud and theft totaling tens of millions of dollars from 2013 to 2015.

According to court filings by state prosecutors, patients to Zipperer’s pain clinic in the Mat-Su were scheduled frequent visits and asked at each visit to give a urine sample. Zipperer then allegedly had the cups of urine sent to his lab in Tennessee, submitting each to dozens of tests and, at the height of the scheme, billing Medicaid $4,000 to $8,000 per sample.

However, it was not a Medicaid patient, but a cash-paying patient, prosecutors say tipped off authorities. The court filing says the patient was surprised to get a $21,000 bill for lab tests done without her knowledge.

Zipperer allegedly ordered the same full panel of testing regardless of a patient’s diagnosis. According to the court filing, “In other words, a heroin addict received the same tests as a student obtaining a sports activity physical.” 

The state’s Medicaid Fraud Unit initially charged Zipperer in December, and the indictment this week adds a new charge. He is set for an initial court appearance Friday on the indicted charges.

Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts.

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