DOJ charges hundreds for healthcare fraud amid opioid crackdown

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrives for a news conference to announce a nation-wide health care fraud and opioid enforcement action at the Justice Department in Washington

"We've charged another 162 people, including 32 doctors, with illegal distribution of opioids - just opioids - so, this is the most doctors and the most medical personnel, unfortunately, and the most fraud that the Department of Justice has ever taken on in any single enforcement action", said the attorney general.

U.S. Attorney Russell M. Coleman announced indictments against 10 people - including three health care providers - in six separate Kentucky cases. Of those, the DOJ elaborated that 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other risky narcotics.

Though numerous cases also involved a variety of schemes to fraudulently bill government healthcare programs, officials sought in the latest crackdown to emphasize their efforts to combat the nation's opioid epidemic.

Greenberg focused on the theme of fighting scofflaw drug treatment centers and sober homes for opioid addicts during his presentation, which echoed a news conference led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington, D.C. Sessions has made fighting the nation's opioid crisis, fueled by an average of 115 overdose deaths every day, a top priority of the Trump administration.

Numerous criminal cases announced on Thursday involved charges against medical professionals who authorities said had contributed to the country's opioid epidemic by participating in the unlawful distribution of prescription painkillers.

In one case, a Texas pharmacy chain owner was accused of using false prescriptions to sell over 1 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to drug couriers.

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.

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"In many cases, doctors, nurses and pharmacists take advantage of people suffering from drug addiction in order to line their pockets", Sessions stated.

With the new cases being filed in "Spinal Cap", the fraudulent claims related to this scheme now span a 15-year period and total more than $950 million, prosecutors said.

Doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other medical officials are among the charged. In many cases, investigators said, patient beneficiaries were paid cash kickbacks for supplying information to medical providers.

The indictment charges Irena Shut, 41, an attorney who lives in Hidden Hills, with paying kickbacks to two podiatrists to authorize prescriptions written on pre-printed prescription pads created to maximize insurance payments, regardless of the medical need for an expensive compounded formulary for each "patient".

Peresiper, a medical clinic business manager, was charged with conspiracy to pay health care kickbacks related to Pulmonary Solutions and Multi Care Medical NY, both in Brooklyn.

The informations charge each of the defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and health care fraud.

Those charged were accused of cheating federal health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, through false billing practices. A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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