The Department of Justice in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced the “largest ever health care fraud enforcement action” by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.
In all, 412 individuals, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were arrested in a nationwide operation that involved more than 1,000 law enforcement agents in at least 30 states.
The schemes amounted to $1.3 billion in false billings.
Wouldn’t that help build the wall on the southern U.S. border or save the lives of many sick patients?
Over 120 of those charged, including doctors, were prescribing and distributing opiods and other dangerous narcotics.
In addition, HHS has initiated suspension actions against 295 providers, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists.
The justice department targeted schemes billing Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE (military healthcare).
Greedy people cashed in on an opiod epidemic
According to the CDC, approximately 91 Americans die every day of an opioid related overdose.
“One American dies of a drug overdose every 11 minutes and more than 2 million Americans are ensnared in addiction to prescription painkillers,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference. “We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are.”
Last year, about 59,000 Americans died from a drug overdose and many were linked to the misuse of prescription drugs.
“Every defendant in today’s announcement shares one common trait – greed,” said Chief Fort of IRS Criminal Investigation. “The desire for money and material items drove these individuals to perpetrate crimes against our healthcare system and prey upon many of the vulnerable in our society. Thanks to the financial expertise and diligence of IRS-CI special agents, who worked side-by-side with other federal, state and local law enforcement officers to uncover these schemes, these criminals are off the street and will now face the consequences of their actions.”
“We have rarely seen anything like the illegal conduct charged in this indictment, both in terms of the nature and size of the scheme,” Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general of the criminal division.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.
To give one example of how abusive this fraud was, in the Florida mental health clinics, false claims were submitted for counseling on behalf of elderly with dementia who couldn’t possibly benefit from mental health counseling.
One can only imagine what single-payer would be like.