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Elizabeth Holmes banned from federal health programs for 90 years

Correction: This article has been updated to correct when Elizabeth Holmes might be eligible to receive federal health benefits.

Federal regulators announced Friday that convicted fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the defunct blood testing company Theranos, has been banned from participating in federal health programs for 90 years, effectively a lifetime ban.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cited Holmes’s 2022 conviction for fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud as the reason for her ban.

Holmes was sentenced to roughly 11 years in prison — starting in May 2023 — for lying to investors about the capabilities of her blood-testing technology. That sentence was reduced by two years in July.

“The statutory minimum for an exclusion based on convictions like Holmes’s is five years. When certain aggravating factors are present, a longer period of exclusion is justified,” the OIG said in a statement. “The length of Holmes’s exclusion is based on the application of several aggravating factors, including the length of time the acts were committed, incarceration, and the amount of restitution ordered to be paid.”

She will not be able to work for an entity that receives federal health care funding apart from some limited circumstances.

Theranos COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, with whom Holmes had a relationship with as they ran the company, had already been excluded from federal programs, also for 90 years.

“Accurate and dependable diagnostic testing technology is imperative to our public health infrastructure,” HHS Inspector General Christi A. Grimm said in a statement. “False statements related to the reliability of these medical products can endanger the health of patients and sow distrust in our health care system.”

Updated at 8:27 pm on Jan. 21.

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