412 people have been charged in health care fraud prosecutions, accused of collectively defrauding the government of $1.3 billion. Almost 1/3 of the 412 charged were accused of opioid related crimes. Health care providers billed Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that were never purchased and collected money for false rehabilitation and tests as well as giving out prescriptions for cash. These doctors also wrote more prescriptions for controlled substances in a single month than hospitals wrote in that time frame. Many arrests were made nationwide last week.
In America, opioid addiction has been an escalating health crisis with drug deaths increasing faster than ever. The two post powerful opioids, hydrocodone and oxycodone, are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 91 Americans die each day of an opioid related overdose. “Cracking down on drug crime must be a priority”, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. Prosecutors are pushed to pursue the toughest charges for these crimes even if it must carry mandatory minimum prison sentences.
The fraud task force charged 301 people for $900 million in false billings last year and charged more than 3,500 people for over $12.5 billion in false billings since its creation a decade ago. Trump’s budget request for a $70 million investment in the health care fraud control program is also a good sign to decrease the likelihood of these crimes happening.