More than 400 people have been charged with healthcare fraud and opioid scams by the US government. The enforcement action the US Justice Department has taken stretches across 41 federal districts. This includes 115 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals for participating in fraudulent healthcare schemes. In total, the fraud totals $1.3 billion in billings that were false. Specifically, there were over 120 defendants such as doctors that were charged for the distribution and prescription of opioids and other narcotics.
The US Department of Health and Human Services also took action against 295 providers such as pharmacists, nurses, and doctors. These schemes include Medicaid, Medicare and TRICARE, which is a health insurance program for veterans, current US military and their families, billing schemes for prescription and compounded drugs that were not necessary, not purchased or given to recipients. Medical professionals such as beneficiaries and patient recruiters gave beneficiary information to providers so they could send the false bills to Medicare for services, which were neither performed nor medically necessary. Specific areas this occurred includes everywhere from Michigan and Illinois to New York, Texas, and California. However, the area with the largest fraud was in the southern district of Florida, where 77 defendants are being charged and over $141 million in false bills for things like pharmacy fraud or mental health services were discovered.One particular case in Florida, the US Justice Department noted, was a scheme where $58 million in fake medical insurance claims for purported drug treatment services occurred.
Apparently, there was active recruitment of addicted patients to move to the south of Florida, where the defendants billed insurance companies for the the testing and treatment. In return, the defendants received various kickbacks such as free airline travel, trips to casinos, strip clubs, drugs and gift cards. Those that struggle with addiction might have been better served by being placed in a drug rehab for Christians than anywhere else. There, they might have received the proper help they needed for their substance abuse struggles.
The Justice Department said there is a particular focus on those medical professionals unlawfully distributing prescription narcotics or opioids that increase the reach and span of the already troublesome opioid crisis within the United States. Around 91 Americans die each day because of an opioid related overdose, according to the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this Justice Department action seeks to serve justice to those medical professionals who betrayed the ethics of the health care industry.
“Too many trusted medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and pharmacists have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients,” Sessions stated. “Amazingly, some have made their practices into multimillion dollar criminal enterprises. They seem oblivious to the disastrous consequences of their greed. Their actions not only enrich themselves often at the expense of taxpayers but also feed addictions and cause addictions to start.” Sessions said this is a very real thing happening today.
“The consequences are real: emergency rooms, jail cells, futures lost, and graveyards,” Sessions said. “While today is a historic day, the Department’s work is not finished. In fact, it is just beginning. We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are.” Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price said that this fraud brings damage to the good reputation the US healthcare industry carries across the world.
“The United States is home to the world’s best medical professionals, but their ability to provide affordable, high-quality care to their patients is jeopardized every time a criminal commits healthcare fraud,” Price stated. “That is why this Administration is committed to bringing these criminals to justice, as President Trump demonstrated in his 2017 budget request calling for a new $70 million investment in the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program.” Price believes this is leading to significant progress in protecting and preserving government healthcare programs.
“The historic results of this year’s national takedown represent significant progress toward protecting the integrity and sustainability of Medicare and Medicaid, which we will continue to build upon in the years to come,” Price added.
With many people struggling with addiction across the country, it makes one wonder why they are not seeking help at a drug rehab for Christians and why healthcare professionals continue to get away with these actions. It does not only harm their reputation and that of their business but the lives of the patients they are supposed to be helping. As the federal government moves to take more actions against those causing healthcare fraud, it seems apparent that they wish to crack down on this sort of behavior in order to prevent it from ever taking place again.
About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery and the entertainment industry.