Justice Dept. announces crackdown on fraudulent opioid prescriptions

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Seven people in Nebraska were among 601 people charged nationwide in a Justice Department crackdown on health care fraud.

The arrests came in dozens of unrelated prosecutions the Justice Department announced together as part of an annual healthcare fraud takedown. Of those charged, 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other risky narcotics.

According to Coleman, law enforcement has also executed multiple search warrants over the past few weeks related to possible health care fraud and opiate overprescribing, including at a residence, an oncologist's practice and several pain clinics. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than 42,000 synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths in the U.S. that year.

The massive enforcement initiative - which spanned 58 federal districts - swept up 165 doctors, nurses and other licensed health professionals, including 76 doctors accused of prescribing and distributing opioids and other prescription painkillers.

One set of charges in Florida details what prosecutors described as $106 million in fraudulent claims for substance abuse treatment in a scheme that involved "widespread fraudulent urine testing". Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.

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"Health care fraud is a betrayal of vulnerable patients, and often it is theft from the taxpayer", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

The Kentucky charges are part of a nationwide enforcement action against health care fraud involving hundreds of defendants, including doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. These are despicable crimes.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has recently attempted to cap the vast majority of opioid doses at 90 morphine milligram equivalents, but an increasingly vocal advocacy network of chronic pain patients forced the agency to preserve much of the flexibility in its own rules. "By every measure we are more effective at finding and prosecuting medical fraud than ever".

Last year, the DOJ charged more than 400 people for allegedly participating in health care fraud activities totaling approximately $1.3 billion in false billings. The group faces charges for their alleged roles in how they prescribed addictive opioid painkillers. In many cases, investigators said, patient beneficiaries were paid cash kickbacks for supplying information to medical providers. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,700 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $14 billion. The charges also involved unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications.

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