In what the Department of Justice called the “largest health care fraud enforcement action” in history, 601 people have been charged with committing $2 billion in health care fraud, including doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, the Hill reports. Those charged were accused of cheating federal health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, through false billing practices. Of those charged, 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and dangerous narcotics.
“Health care fraud is a betrayal of vulnerable patients, and often it is theft from the taxpayer,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “In many cases, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists take advantage of people suffering from drug addiction in order to line their pockets.” The defendants allegedly submitted claims to Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE and private insurance companies for treatments that were medically unnecessary and often never provided, DOJ said. In many cases, patient recruiters, beneficiaries and other co-conspirators were allegedly paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, so the providers could submit fraudulent bills to Medicare. “The number of medical professionals charged is particularly significant, because virtually every health care fraud scheme requires a corrupt medical professional to be involved in order for Medicare or Medicaid to pay the fraudulent claims,” DOJ said.