Justice Department to crack down on health care fraud and opioid abuse

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President Donald Trump has vowed to both restore the rule of law in this country and solve the nation’s opioid crisis — and the Department of Justice (DOJ) just made a major move that involves both of those issues.

The DOJ recently unveiled criminal charges against 601 individuals, at least 100 of whom worked in the medical field, who were involved in opioid prescription and distribution schemes targeting health care programs that cost federal health care programs and insurers more than $2 billion in fraudulent costs.

A big announcement

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the recent takedown of the massive fraud scheme in a news conference on Thursday. This announcement was part of a broader, ongoing effort to expose individuals who have been exploiting and profiting off of the opioid abuse epidemic.

“This year, we are charging 601 people, including 76 doctors, 23 pharmacists, 19 nurses, and other medical personnel with more than $2 billion in medical fraud,” Sessions said.

“Much of this fraud is related to our ongoing opioid crisis — which is the deadliest drug epidemic in American history,” the attorney general continued. “Some of our most trusted medical professionals look at their patients — vulnerable people suffering from addiction — and they see dollar signs.”

Sessions revealed that nearly 200 doctors and an additional 220 medical personnel have been charged with opioid-related crimes since January 2017, with just 16 of those doctors being responsible for the illicit prescribing of roughly 20.3 million pills nationwide.

A special task force has already indicted more than 6,500 individuals for opioid-related crimes, and this latest crackdown netted another 162 individuals — 32 of whom are doctors — who were involved in the illegal distribution of opioid drugs.

More Medicare fraud

One example of the criminal fraud unraveled by this most recent investigation involved a doctor who had defrauded Medicare of more than $112 million while illicitly distributing more than 2.2 million doses of opioid drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone.

Another 13 individuals were charged in a fraud ring that siphoned $126 million away from a program intended to aid military health care.

“These cases are vitally important not only to the victims of these fraudsters, but to the entire country. Many of these fraudsters have stolen our tax dollars — and many have helped flood our streets with drugs,” Sessions said. “These are despicable crimes and we’re not going to tolerate them.”

The attorney general made clear that the DOJ is “just getting started” when it comes to fraud and opioid enforcement. He warned: “We are sending a clear message to criminals across the country: we will find you. We will bring you to justice. And you will pay a very high price for what you have done.”

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This is huge news in terms of cracking down on both the opioid abuse epidemic and health care-related fraud, two issues that have been wracking our nation for some time.

Hopefully, as Sessions stated, this is just a small part of a larger, still ongoing effort to bring justice to those who are abusing and exploiting the system.

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