Medical Fraud Investigation Involving Opioids Leads to 400 Persons Charged
Last week the Department of Justice announced they would be charging more than 400 individuals in connection with a huge medical fraud investigation. The crackdown targeted physicians who were suspected of prescribing opioids when unnecessary and healthcare facilities who took advantage of addicts, many of whom spent money on addiction treatment that mostly served to exacerbate their addiction.
FBI Director Andrew McCabe to the press:
“Some doctors wrote…more prescriptions for controlled substances in one month than entire hospitals were writing, To opioid addicts, these prescriptions escalate their dependence on drugs. They are a death sentence…”
More than $1 billion in fraudulent billing was uncovered in the scams, a substantial amount that was paid by the government through the illegal billing of Medicaid and Medicare. Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to it as “the largest healthcare fraud takedown operation in American history.”
Among the charged include a Houston physician who peddled thousands of painkiller prescriptions for money, and a fake Florida rehab center that is accused of using gift cards, casino trips and strip club visits to recruit clients.
Sessions noted that the investigation and charges were part of President Trump’s objective to curb the U.S. opioid crisis.
“The United States is by far the highest prescribing opioid nation in the world…And I think that is a cause of addiction.”
The arrests included more than 120 individuals involved in opioid prescribing. Most of the arrests occurred this week and included 77 people in Florida who were involved in various scams. In and around Los Angeles, 17 more people were charged, such as the unnecessary prescribing of opioids.
According to officials, however, most of the cases involved fraudulent billing to Medicare for pills and services that were not provided. In total, the cases have resulted in at least $1.3 billion in fraud.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that at estimated two million people in the United States are addicted to prescription opioids, and hundreds of thousands use heroin. Up to 4 in 5 new heroin users report becoming addicted to prescription drugs before initiating heroin use.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology