A couple who was double-billed for visits to get “free” COVID tests has filed a lawsuit Monday that could recoup millions of dollars from a Brooklyn-based physicians group.
Sabine Schumacher and Linda Cunningham filed the class-action suit in Brooklyn Supreme Court against CareCube, seeking more than $10 million in damages — for anybody who was overcharged by the company.
The company, which operates 20 storefront testing sites across four boroughs, sent surprise bills starting last year to patients who thought they were getting free services, as first reported by THE CITY.
THE CITY identified dozens of New Yorkers who said they received bills as high as $100 — even if they had health insurance — for tests that were advertised as free. CareCube billed the patients for doctors’ visits and other services even though they just went in for simple nose-swab tests.
Jay Filan, a 64-year-old retired librarian from Bay Ridge, had said he was told “nothing about any costs” when he was at a Bay Ridge CareCube last March.
‘Exploiting the Global Pandemic’
In their suit, Schumacher and Cunningham, domestic partners who live in The Bronx, claim they were also overcharged for a test in June 2021, calling it “brazen profiteering.” They were charged $450 for their tests, the couple said.
They allege that the company is “exploiting the global pandemic … by unlawfully overcharging New Yorkers for COVID-19 tests.”
“We live in a poor neighborhood and are worried that CareCube will be taking advantage of our neighbors and other low-income New Yorkers who can’t afford to be scammed,” Cunningham said in a statement.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they have asked for a jury trial and hope other potentially fleeced customers join in the class action.
“This suit will prove that CareCube engaged in a massive medical billing scheme throughout New York City,” said Steven L. Wittels, a partner with Wittels McInturff Palikovic.
State and Feds Eye Company
The Brooklyn lawsuit comes just over a month after Attorney General Letitia James announced her office was investigating the company for the fraudulent bills.
“CareCube and all COVID-19 test providers have a responsibility to be accurate and transparent in their billing process,” James said in a statement at the time, encouraging anyone who felt they were defrauded to file a complaint with her office.
And in an article published not long before James’ Jan. 6 announcement, New York Magazine reported that CareCube had been the subject of U.S. Department of Justice scrutiny.
That piece also included allegations from anonymous former company employees that CareCube intentionally exploited exemptions in federal law in order to bill for tests that are free by law in most instances, then billed both patients and insurers for the same coronavirus tests
The company has performed more than 72,000 tests since March 2021, the article noted.
A spokesperson for CareCube did not respond to a request for comment to this story.
In a response to THE CITY’s original reporting, the company said it had to “perform a pre-test assessment recognized as an office visit to ensure the patient is fit for testing and determine if the test is advisable from a medical perspective.”