DOJ Charges 345 People Allegedly Involved in More Than $6 Billion in Fraud Related to Telemedicine, Opioid Prescriptions
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
In September 2020, federal prosecutors charged 345 doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals allegedly involved in more than $6 billion in healthcare fraud. It is considered the largest Health Care Fraud and Opioid Enforcement Action in the Department of Justice's history (DOJ). The schemes were related to telemedicine, illegal opioid distribution, and durable medical equipment, the DOJ said.
A National Fraud Operation.
According to the DOJ, the 345 defendants were responsible for submitting false and fraudulent claims that cost more than $6 billion to federal health care programs and private insurers. It included $4.5 billion related to telemedicine fraud, $1.5 billion connected to sober homes, and over $806 million linked to illegal opioid distribution and other forms of Medicare fraud.
Telemedicine fraud charges made up the bulk of the nationwide bust. A total of 86 defendants were telehealth executives who allegedly paid medical professionals to order unnecessary amounts of durable medical equipment, genetic tests, and pain medications.
The sober homes cases include charges against more than 12 defendants for allegedly submitting false claims for tests and treatments for patients with drug and alcohol problems. The defendants allegedly paid illegal kickbacks and bribes for the referral of hundreds of patients to substance abuse treatment facilities.
Similarly, included in the charges were health professionals and others involved in distributing more than 30 million doses of opioids and other prescription narcotics. These charges have already resulted in guilty pleas by more than 240 of the defendants.
The historic law enforcement action was put in motion in April 2020 and aimed to crack down on classic health care fraud schemes. The DOJ executes "takedowns" every year to spotlight concerns about fraud in certain areas by grouping similar schemes together. Since its establishment in 2007, it has charged more than 4,200 defendants who defrauded Medicare for more than $19 billion, the agency said.
Click here to read the press release issued by the DOJ.
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Allen, Jackie. "DOJ charges 345 people involve in more than $6 billion healthcare fraud." USA Herald. (October 3, 2020). Web.
Stawicki, Keven. "DOJ Charges 345 In Health Fraud Schemes Topping $6B." Law360. (September 30, 2020). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
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