Local doctors caught up in major federal health care fraud crackdown

Feds charge 600 in opioid fraud that bilked $2B from government and insurers

"Licensed medical professionals and others who cheat the system will be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law".

"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.

Secretary of Health and Human Service Alex Azar added in the DOJ statement: "Virtually every health care fraud scheme requires a corrupt medical professional to be involved".

Already, Sessions said, enforcement has resulted in lower billing levels in some government health programs, with billings for Medicare Part A and Part B - which cover inpatient care and many physician-prescribed drugs, respectively - dropping by 20 percent in districts with fraud strike forces.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama this week charged five employees, including a district and an operations manager, of an Alabama-based compounding pharmacy with participating in a conspiracy to generate prescriptions and defraud health care insurers and prescription drug administrators out of tens of millions of dollars.

The Department of Justice on Thursday announced charges against 601 people allegedly responsible for $2 billion in health care fraud, including 65 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals.

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This announcement appears to reflect both an ongoing commitment by the DOJ to prosecute health care fraud and opioid abuse cases, and that the emphasis by HHS on administratively excluding providers has become a part of the enforcement landscape over the past year. A list of states where the alleged fraud and crimes happened is available here.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the epidemic caused more than 42,000 deaths from opioid overdoses in the United States in 2016. These are despicable crimes.

"It takes a special kind of person to prey on the sick and vulnerable as happened in many of these health care fraud schemes", said Deputy Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation Eric Hylton.

"Today is a historic day - but our work is not finished". In May, lawmakers took distributor executives to task for what they said was a lack of due diligence on large opioid orders from pharmacies.

Yesdel Acosta and Eduardo Chinea-Martinez were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 16 counts of health care fraud, 13 counts of theft from a health care benefit program, 13 counts aggravated identity theft, 10 counts of money laundering and four counts of mail fraud. Crosby is accused of paying an alleged co-conspirator to recruit patients by promising them cash or other inducements, and Crosby allegedly billed for services not rendered, they said.

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