Feds Charge 412 in $1.3 Billion Healthcare Fraud Bust

Raw Video AG Sessions Speaks at Anti Drug Conference

Raw Video AG Sessions Speaks at Anti Drug Conference

Ten individuals in the middle district of Florida charged with participating in a variety of schemes involving nearly $14 million in alleged fraudulent billing.

In 2015, federal authorities announced the arrest of 243 people on fraud charges totaling $712 million (see 243 Charged in Medicare Fraud Schemes).

A record 412 people have been charged with collectively defrauding the USA government of US$ 1.3 billion, in what Attorney General Jeff Sessions called "the largest healthcare fraud takedown operation in American history", the Department of Justice announced Thursday. In one instance, a Louisiana pharmacist was charged with submitting and causing the submission of $192 million in false and fraudulent claims to TRICARE and other health care benefit programs for dispensing compounded medications that were not medically necessary or induced by illegal kickback payments. "Just one doctor at this clinic allegedly gave out 12,000 opioid prescriptions for over two million illegal painkiller doses". The health care providers, some 50 of them doctors, had billed Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that were never purchased; collected money for false rehabilitation treatments and tests; and given out prescriptions for cash, according to prosecutors.

In another Arkansas case, a federal grand jury charged Erik Edson Turner of Flippin and two others with "conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Schedule II controlled substances without an effective prescription", according to the news release from Harris.

"We are sending a clear message to criminals across the country: we will find you", said Sessions at a press briefing. These figures, the OIG notes, do not include cancer or hospice patients. The barely controlled pumping of hundreds of millions of doses of opioids into USA communities during the past decade is blamed for a sharp surge in addiction, with an estimated two million to three million people hooked on prescription painkillers or heroin, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

"Last year, an estimated 59,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, many linked to the misuse of prescription drugs". The academies' report, published yesterday, provided a number of suggestions, including better education for both doctors and the public, expanded opioid addiction treatment, more research, and a full review of now marketed opioids.

"I know we overuse certain words in the lexicon like unprecedented and historic and unique", said Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The crackdown was coordinated by multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies.

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