Feds charge 600 people in $2 billion opioid fraud

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar arrive for a news conference to announce a nation-wide health care fraud and opioid enforcement action at the Justice Department in Washington U.S. Ju

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced charges against 601 people on Thursday for alleged participation in health care fraud activities, saying it was the "largest health care fraud enforcement action in American history".

Authorities said the nationwide schemes involved billing Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and other medications that were sometimes never purchased or distributed.

The arrests came as part of what the department said was the largest health care fraud takedown in US history and included 162 doctors and other suspects charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing addictive opioid painkillers. "Some Houston-area medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and pharmacological representatives, have chosen to break the law and place their greed before those whom they are charged to heal". These are despicable crimes.

Further details were unavailable.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has recently attempted to cap the vast majority of opioid doses at 90 morphine milligram equivalents, but an increasingly vocal advocacy network of chronic pain patients forced the agency to preserve much of the flexibility in its own rules.

Among the hundreds charged are 10 people from the Western District of Kentucky, including six from Jefferson County, accused of participating in health care fraud schemes.

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"As alleged, the defendants charged throughout the Eastern District of NY as a part of the nationwide health care takedown abused their positions to enrich themselves, while bilking Medicare and Medicaid", U.S. prosecutor Richard P. Donoghue said. That's a loss of $337 million in false billings for services, including home health care and pharmacy fraud. Among those charged were 76 doctors, 23 pharmacists, 19 nurses and other medical personnel, the announcement states. 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. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Dr. Reddy was also charged with allowing his nurse practitioners to use his DEA number to prescribe controlled substances.

Erving Rodriguez: charged with one count of conspiracy to solicit and receive health care kickbacks.

"These individuals rob this nation of its precious taxpayer dollars", said FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Perrye K. Turner.

According to court documents, Global hired sales representatives who were located in various states and were responsible for generating prescriptions from physicians and other prescribers.

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.

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