The Theranos Story, ch. 39: good news, bad news, and the ugly lawsuit news

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/jacobs-well-texas-woe1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]It’s that darn well again! Theranos‘ News of the Week ran the gamut from cheap, to expensive, to potentially business terminating.

Cheap was the settlement of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) civil penalty against the company for a pinprick of $30,000. What remains: that Theranos cannot own or operate any labs for the next two years. As the company has downsized and done the Silicon Valley pivot to developing labs and testing platforms, the settlement is the barn door closing after the horse has exited and crossed the state line. Theranos press release,

Expensive was the settlement of the Arizona legal action brought by the state Attorney General, Mark Brnovich. $4.65 million settled matters, providing full refunds for 175,940 Arizona consumers who ordered between 2013 and 2016 approximately 1.5 million blood tests and 7.8 million results. Also on the tab are $200,000 in civil penalties, $25,000 in attorneys’ fees, and a claims administrator to dole out the refunds. While it was estimated that only 10.5 percent of tests were inaccurate, the consumer fraud charges were easier for Theranos to settle without admitting wrongdoing. A solid win for the AG as well. Background on this in Ch. 33. Ars Technica, Bloomberg, Theranos press release

Potentially disastrous is the go-ahead given to one of the many lawsuits against Theranos, also charging Elizabeth Holmes and former CEO Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani. The US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in the case brought by two shareholders, Robert Colman and Hilary Taubman-Dye, represented by Hagens Berman (Ch. 27), that most of the claims of investor fraud would proceed. Theranos’ sole success was having the charge of misrepresentation of securities under the California Corporations Code dismissed on the technicality of purchase from a third party seller. The more damning claims of direct misrepresentation by Ms Holmes and Mr Balwani, mentioning news articles and their advertising campaign, were upheld. Interestingly, the plaintiffs must now show cause why the third party sellers (Lucas Venture Group, Celadon Technology Fund, SharePost), should not be included as defendants. The stage is now set for a class-action lawsuit with potentially thousands of other investors. Theranos page on Hagens Berman website, District Court ruling document.

The final countdown is at the bank. In March, Theranos reported $150 million in cash (ch. 38), down from $200 million in January. Subtract $30,000 to CMS, $4.65 million to Arizona, legal fees, pending lawsuits, and running expenses–with no investors and revenue in–and a burn of about $50 million a quarter, it will be Taps for Theranos before end of year.

The Theranos Story, ch. 33: Arizona gets its lawsuits on

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/jacobs-well-texas-woe1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The state of Arizona is lawyering up to sue Theranos for consumer fraud. TechCrunch found a bid solicitation on Arizona’s state procurement website from the Office of the Arizona Attorney General (AGO). It requests bids for outside counsel to assist the AGO in legal action against Theranos for fraudulent blood testing. From the Outside Counsel RFP:

The purpose of this contract is to retain Outside Counsel to aid the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (the AGO) in commencing legal action against Theranos, Inc. and its closely related subsidiaries for violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act arising out of Theranos Inc.’s long-running scheme of deceptive acts and misrepresentations relating to the capabilities and operation of Theranos blood testing equipment, including but not limited to deceptive acts and misrepresentations made to Arizona consumers in connection with Theranos Wellness Centers in Arizona and California. Upon retention, Outside Counsel will assist the AGO on a contingency fee basis per the terms set forth in this Request for Proposal.

Arizona’s involvement with Theranos went above and beyond ‘deceptive acts and misrepresentations’ made to Arizona consumers. As we noted last September in Chapter 20, in early 2015 lawmakers quickly deregulated blood testing to permit direct consumer order of blood tests, after Elizabeth Holmes and company swept in and turned the governor and legislators quite ga-ga. It turns out the unimpressed Arizona Medical Association was on the mark in their objections. So undoubtedly this first move by a state entity is Powered by Embarrassment.

One wonders which law firm out of their lengthening list Theranos will choose. (See Chapter 29) Bids are due by 27 Jan. Hat tip to Bill Oravecz of Stone Health Innovations.

See here for the 32 previous TTA chapters in this Continuing, Consistently Amazing Saga, including the firing of 155 remaining staff (Ch. 32), the resignation of General Mattis from the BOD (Ch. 31), and Theranos’ annus horribilis (Ch. 30).

The Theranos Story, ch. 20: How Arizonans fell hard and let Theranos change health policy

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/upside-down-duck.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The face is in the lake, and the yellow duck is upside down–augering in! A flatly-spinning Yak-52 no longer describes the glide path of Theranos, now at value 0. So as the dust settles, the Tales of When The Circus Came to Town are dusted off and published. Here Tim Steller, a writer and columnist with the Arizona Daily Star, reminisces on those dazzling Arizona days back in March 2015–18 short months ago–when Elizabeth Holmes swept into Phoenix in her bodyguarded SUV, trailing lobbyists and dropping names. The state legislature and Governor Doug Ducey, by this telling, were mere putty in her hands, star-struck into approving a bill permitting direct consumer ordering of lab tests, over the objections of the Arizona Medical Association and the questioning of the two doctors in the legislature. The Big Question–“does your blood-testing technology work?”–never was asked, and only two voted against the bill. At least Theranos only sought deregulation to facilitate its placement in Walgreens; Zenefits, another one-time Unicorn, gained employment incentives for its online HR-benefits brokerage, which were voided with recent layoffs. Tucson.com  See here for the 19 previous TTA chapters.

Arizona plans using health tech to engage Medicaid recipients

Arizona’s smartphone app-based outreach plan for its Medicaid (low-income health insurance) program has raised a few eyebrows. The app/online site would:

* Help beneficiaries find primary and urgent care providers
* Provide beneficiaries access to chronic disease management tools
* Send beneficiaries appointment reminders

The programs would use mobile, online and texting, which doesn’t require a smartphone and has historically worked well in compliance and information (e.g. Text4Baby). For the critics, however, Pew Research found that half of those with incomes under $30,000 have smartphones. This number also includes the elderly, and does not take into account recent growth–smartphone prices have decreased smartly, and are now available on pay-go plans. iHealthBeat