ST. LOUIS (KTVI)–The Center for COVID Control, a Chicago-based company that until recently operated testing facilities across the country, and is currently under investigation by Attorneys General in several states including Missouri and Illinois, has been served with a lawsuit by the state of Minnesota, accusing it of providing inaccurate and deceptive test results, deceptive trade practices and false advertising.

The suit, filed in Minnesota district court Wednesday, alleges that the company has taken in at least $113 million in federal money meant to cover costs of those who are uninsured when private insurance companies could have been chosen.

“Defendants have obtained and/or intend to obtain reimbursement payments for the COVID-19 tests they have provided to Minnesota consumers from both Minnesota consumers’ insurers and the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for uninsured Minnesota consumers. Indeed, upon information and belief, Doctors Clinical Laboratory, has billed the federal government over $113 million for COVID-19 tests provided to allegedly-uninsured
patients across the nation, including Minnesota consumers,” the suit, which also names a related company, Doctors Clinical Labs, Inc., also says employees were unable to select Minnesota insurance companies in many cases while processing clients, meaning that patients were labeled as uninsured, with the burden of paying for the testing falling on the federal government instead of the appropriate insurance company.

The Center for COVID control did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It previously told FOX4 in Kansas City that it was pausing operations nationwide until January 22. In St. Louis, the local administrator for three sites that used CCC for testing said he would try to reopen with a new partner.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley said Thursday that the issue underscores more broadly the need for oversight as billions of dollars are spent to address the pandemic and its related impacts.

“At the federal level we’ve got to have really strict accountability and oversight over how these COVID dollars are being spent and I don’t think there’s enough oversight right now., Hawley said. “It is important that we fully fund the oversight bodies, the inspectors general and have Congress do its job and actually ask tough questions about how is this money being spent.”

The Missouri Attorney General’s office confirmed Thursday it has received two complaints about the company. Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued the following statement, announcing the Center for COVID Control will not reopen in Illinois for the foreseeable future:

“I opened an investigation into the Center for COVID Control in response to our residents contacting my office to report a number of concerning issues at the Center for COVID Control’s pop-up COVID-19 testing locations throughout Illinois. Complaints have ranged from testing results being delayed or not received at all, to results being provided to individuals who were never administered a test, to tests being stored improperly, and staff incorrectly using PPE and face masks.

Although the company voluntarily suspended operations, my office contacted company officials to demand that the Center for COVID Control immediately stop engaging in any fraudulent or deceptive conduct, particularly with respect to the delivery of testing results or billing. In addition to evaluating residents’ complaints, attorneys from my Consumer Fraud Division interviewed former employees of the Center for COVID Control.

This evening, I am pleased to announce that the company’s representatives have agreed the Center for COVID Control will postpone the reopening of any pop-up testing locations in Illinois for the foreseeable future.

I am pleased with this result and would like to thank the residents who noticed something awry and contacted my office. I also appreciate the former employee whistleblowers who came forward to report practices that compromised tests. I am committed to protecting Illinois residents from unlawful conduct by companies operating pop-up COVID-19 testing facilities in our state.”