The Department of Justice has announced charges against 412 people for allegedly defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE of $1.3 billion in taxpayer funds for various scheme across 41 federal districts covering dozens of states.
Of the 412 people arrested, 115 are “doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals,” according to the Department Of Justice. Sessions was joined by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, M.D., who announced the start of “suspension actions” against 295 healthcare providers who are alleged to have wrongly billed Medicaid, Medicare or TRICARE.
CBS News reports that 120 of the 412 faced charges related to the acquisition and distribution of opioids, helping to fuel an epidemic that claims nearly 100 lives a day.
Others were charged in schemes that billed Medicaid, Medicare and TRICARE for medically unnecessary drugs or treatment that may have never been purchased or distributed at all. Allegedly, co-conspirators would acquire and provide beneficiary information to healthcare providers, who would pay kickbacks after filing false claims.
One scheme documented in South Florida allegedly paid kickbacks like drugs, gift cards, plane tickets and trips to casinos and strip clubs.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said:
“Too many trusted medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and pharmacists have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients. Amazingly, some have made their practices into multimillion dollar criminal enterprises […] Their actions not only enrich themselves often at the expense of taxpayers but also feed addictions and cause addictions to start. The consequences are real: emergency rooms, jail cells, futures lost, and graveyards.”
Sessions says the work of the Department of Justice will continue, adding “we will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are.”