“While the news media propagandists continue to rake Trump’s name over the coals, the Commander in Chief has taken action against the medical profession’s criminal conspirators who prey on the pain of patients especially the elderly who depend on Medicare,” said Det. Sgt. Jonathon Laurence.
The U.S. Department of Justice charged 601 people on Thursday for allegedly perpetrating numerous acts of false billings amounting to more than $2 Billion. According to the Justice Department report, 165 of those charged are physicians and other medical professionals such as “prescribing” nurses.
One-hundred-and-sixty-two suspects, of which 76 are medical doctors, were arrested for contributing to the opioid crisis by unlawfully prescribing narcotics to their patients.
“Some of our most trusted medical professionals look at their patients – vulnerable people suffering from addiction — and they see dollar signs,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a press conference on Thursday.
“Healthcare fraud touches every corner of the United States and not only costs taxpayers money, but also can have deadly consequences,” said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich. “Through investigations across the country, we have seen medical professionals putting greed above their patients’ well-being and trusted doctors fanning the flames of the opioid crisis. I want to thank the agents, analysts and our law enforcement partners in every field office who work each and every day to stop these criminals and hold them accountable for their actions.”
Sessions claimed that this latest operation was “the largest healthcare fraud takedown operation in American history.” He told reporters that 58 federal districts with more than 1,000 state and federal law enforcement agents participated in this law enforcement operation.
The criminal charges also targeted schemes in which the defendants allegedly submitted claims to Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE — a military healthcare program — and private insurance companies for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and other treatments that in some cases were never given to patients.
“Many of these fraudsters have stolen our tax dollars — and many have helped flood our streets with drugs,” Sessions noted. “For example, one doctor allegedly defrauded Medicare of more than $112 million by distributing 2.2 million unnecessary doses of drugs such as oxycodone and fentanyl.”
Frequently patient recruiters, beneficiaries and others involved in the fraud conspiracies were paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to healthcare providers, allowing these providers to submit fraudulent billing information to Medicare, according to court documents.
Sessions described the latest strategy to combat these types of fraud, including the use of a special Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit. “This data analytics team can tell us important information, like who is prescribing the most drugs, who is dispensing the most drugs, and whose patients are dying of overdoses,” said Sessions.
He also reported that a 12 prosecutors were assigned to investigating and prosecuting opioid-related healthcare fraud in districts that needed extra enforcement assistance.
“Today is a historic day — but our work is not finished. We are just getting started. We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are,” Sessions said.
“Every dollar recovered in this year’s operation represents not just a taxpayer’s hard-earned money—it’s a dollar that can go toward providing healthcare for Americans in need,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “This year’s Takedown Day is a significant accomplishment for the American people, and every public servant involved should be proud of their work.”