56 Physicians Among Hundreds Charged in $1.3B Health Care Fraud Scandal

JULY 13, 2017
Thomas Castles
The US Department of Justice has announced the largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
 
“Too many trusted medical professionals like doctors, nurses and pharmacists have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients,” Sessions said at a press conference in Washington, DC. “Amazingly, some have made their practices into multimillion dollar criminal enterprises...The consequences are real: emergency rooms, jail cells, futures lost, and graveyards.”
 
Sessions announced a coordinated effort between the Criminal Division, US Attorney’s Offices, Health and Human Services and more than 1,000 state and federal law enforcement agents to charge 412 defendants – 56 of whom are physicians – of defrauding US taxpayers of roughly $1.3 billion.
 
“Among those defendants announced today, 120 have been charged with opioid-related crimes, making this also the largest opioid-related fraud takedown in American History,” Sessions said.
 
One group of defendants are alleged to have operated a scheme in Michigan to prescribe patients with unnecessary opioids, some of which ended up for sale on the black market.
 
“These defendants allegedly billed Medicare for $164 million in false and fraudulent claims,” Sessions said. “One fake rehab facility for drug addicts in Palm Beach is alleged to have recruited addicts with gift cards, visits to strip clubs, and even drugs-enabling the company to bill for over $58 million in false treatments and tests.”
 
Another illegal clinic in Houston allegedly gave out prescriptions for cash. One doctor at this clinic allegedly gave out 12000 opioid prescriptions for over 2 million illegal painkiller doses.
 
“These defendants have been charged and they will face justice,” Sessions said.
 
At the time of the announcement, 295 health care providers were in the process of being suspended or banned from participation in federal health care programs.
 
“We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are. We will use every tool we have to stop criminals from exploiting vulnerable people and stealing our hard-earned tax dollars,” Sessions said.
 

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