Justice Dept. announces crackdown on fraudulent opioid prescriptions

Justice Dept. announces crackdown on fraudulent opioid prescriptions

Ashlee McFarlane, former federal prosecutor and partner at Gerger Khalil & Hennessy, told Healthcare Dive via email that the takedown shows DOJ "is committing significant resources to criminally prosecuting anyone who prescribes drugs or distributes opioid prescriptions outside the normal course of medical practice".

"What health care fraud is at the end of the day, at its base level, is it's theft and it's drug dealing", U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman said.

Among the accused are 76 doctors, 23 pharmacists and 19 nurses. One of the physicians arrested is suspected of distributing 2.2 million unnecessary doses of painkillers, according to remarks from Sessions.

More than 42,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2016, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of that staggering total, about 125 defendants were charged in South Florida with filing almost $340 million in fraudulent claims for opioid addiction treatment, home healthcare and prescription drugs covered by taxpayer-funded programs and other insurance plans.

In the Southern District of Florida, 124 people were charged with offenses relating to their participation in various fraud schemes involving more than $337 million in false billings for services including home health care and pharmacy fraud. The treatment facility's CEO, Paul R. Materia, 43, and patient brokers Joseph Lubowitz, 29, and Christopher Fuller, 33, were charged with illegally recruiting patients, paying kickbacks and defrauding healthcare programs by billing for urine testing and substance abuse treatment that were medically unnecessary.

On Thursday, the U.S Justice Department (DOJ) announced the arrests of 601 people on charges of healthcare fraud amounting to over $2 billion in losses from government healthcare programs and insurers. These are despicable crimes. Dr. Reddy also was charged with conspiracy for unlawfully allowing nurse practitioners to use his DEA number to prescribe controlled substances, officials said. And the Justice Department says that while most medical professionals are honorable, this group took advantage of the opioid crisis for their own benefit.

United States v. James Moorehead: James Moorehead, a registered nurse, was charged with three counts of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, or subterfuge, and seven counts of false statements relating to health care matters.

"These individuals rob this nation of its precious taxpayer dollars", said FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Perrye K. Turner. "Rooting out health care fraud is central to the well-being of both our citizens and the overall economy".

The FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, HHS-OIG, DCIS and IRS-CI, investigated the Global cases, which Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chinelo Dike-Minor, Don Long and Nicole Grosnoff are prosecuting. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.