Hundreds of people nationwide, including dozens of doctors, have been charged in health care fraud prosecutions, accused of collectively defrauding the government of $1.3 billion. Nearly one-third of the 412 charged were accused of opioid-related crimes. The health care providers, about 50 of them doctors, billed Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that were never purchased; collected money for false rehabilitation treatments and tests; and gave out prescriptions for cash, according to prosecutors.
Some of the doctors wrote more prescriptions for controlled substances in a single month than entire hospitals wrote in that time.
In one case, prosecutors said, the owner and operator of a drug-treatment center in Delray Beach, Fla., recruited addicts to aid him in his schemes, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and visiting “crack motels” to persuade people to move to South Florida to help him. He offered kickbacks in the form of gift cards, plane tickets, trips to casinos and strip clubs as well as drugs. The owner, Eric Snyder, and an associate were charged with fraudulently billing insurance companies for more than $50 million for false treatment and urine tests over nearly five years.
Opioid addiction is an escalating public health crisis in America, with drug deaths rising faster than ever. Hydrocodone and oxycodone, two powerful opioids, are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 91 Americans die each day of an opioid-related overdose. “Thanks to these efforts, fewer criminals will be able to exploit our nation’s opioid crisis for their own gain,” said Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services. NYT
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