Addiction to opioid pain killers has reached epidemic proportions in recent years. Many blame the problem on pharmaceutical companies and doctors who are too quick to prescribe these highly-addictive drugs. Recent news may uphold this belief.
On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that more than 400 individuals are facing criminal charges for their involvement in fraud and opioid scams totaling $1.3 billion. Sessions called it the “largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history.” He went on to say that this level of fraud shows that certain healthcare professionals “have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients.”
Strips Clubs for Prescriptions
In one particular scam, six Michigan doctors allegedly wrote unnecessary prescriptions for opioids. If that isn’t disturbing enough, a rehab facility in Florida is accused of using gift cards, casino trips and visits to strip clubs to entice addicts to move to Palm Beach, resulting in about $58 million in fraudulent treatments. A Boston whistleblower attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you have unique information about healthcare fraud.
Of the 400 charged, at least 120 were involved in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids – the same opioids that killed more than 52,000 Americans in 2015. And fatalities continue to rise. “In some cases, we had addicts packed into standing-room-only waiting rooms waiting for these prescriptions,” said Andrew McCabe, acting FBI director. “They are a death sentence, plain and simple.”
Those charged are facing criminal penalties stemming from allegations that they illegally billed Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that, in some cases, were never even purchased. In other cases, drugs were given to patients unnecessarily so that doctors and clinics could benefit financially. “They seem oblivious to the disastrous consequences of their greed. Their actions not only enrich themselves, often at the expense of taxpayers, but also feed addictions and cause addictions to start,” said Sessions. And the attorney general believes many more cases will come out of this.
United States Leads the World in Opioid Prescriptions
According to Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, four out of five new heroin addicts started with opioids. The United States prescribes more opioids than any other country, by a long shot. “In West Virginia, one firefighter revived the same young lady three times in one day. That’s a system that is failing that individual,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. States with high rates of addiction cases, however, fear that healthcare legislation to combat this problem would result in Medicaid cuts, worsening the problem for addicts who are covered by the program.
Blow the Whistle
A whistleblower is someone who exposes illegal, unethical, or fraudulent activity within an organization, company, or government entity. The federal government encourages whistleblowers to come forward with this information. So much so, in fact, that whistleblowers may receive up to 30 percent of funds recovered through such a process. Considering that recoveries are often in the tens of millions, whistleblower payouts can be quite substantial. The federal government also protects whistleblowers from retaliation through the Whistleblower Protection Act. A MA whistleblower attorney can help you understand your rights and options if you have unique information about healthcare fraud. Continue reading