MN cases part of Ntl. Health Care Fraud Takedown

Marsha Scott
July 15, 2017

"Of those charged, over 120 defendants, including doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other unsafe narcotics", the statement said, adding that the Department of Health and Human Services had suspended 295 healthcare providers.

The Houston Chronicle identified these individuals as Houston physician Gazelle Craig, who specialized in pain management at the Gulfton Community Health Center, and clinic owner Shane Faithful.

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

Twenty-four Arkansas residents have been charged in what authorities say is the largest nationwide crackdown on health care fraud in the Department of Justice's history.

Nineteen of the 24 people charged in Arkansas have been arrested, said Chris Givens, assistant US attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. According to Sessions, the suspects accounted for more than $1.3 billion after making fraudulent billing transactions.

Seventeen defendants in California charged for their alleged roles in schemes to defraud Medicare out of approximately $147 million.

One of the defendants allegedly billed Medicare for $164 million in false and fraudulent claims for prescribing patients with unnecessary opioids, some of which resulted in street sales.

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He added that due to this discovery, 295 heath care providers are being suspended or banned from participation in federal heath programs. "We will bring you to justice, and you will pay a very high price for what you have done".

They identified tramadol, also known as Vicodin or as the generic hydrocodone-acetaminophen, and oxycodone-acetaminophen, better recognized as Percocet, as the most commonly prescribed opioids. These figures, the OIG notes, do not include cancer or hospice patients.

The heavy-handed move came at a time when opioid-related drugs were becoming an epidemic in especially rural regions in the US.

"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.

In 2015, more than 33,000 opioid-related deaths were reported nationwide, including 1,186 in Texas. States and counties around the country are suing both the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids for fueling the addiction epidemic by ignoring suspect surges in orders that can not be justified by local patient populations.

The strikeforce operation also involved multiple other DOJ and HHS units, including the HHS Office of Inspector General, U.S. Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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