World Media

Health Care Fraud Takedown - Nationwide Sweep

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill

Numerous arrests were years in the making and focused on fraud related to opioids. "Too many trusted medical professionals like doctors, nurses and pharmacists have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients", Sessions said.

Half of those charged in Arkansas were members of Houston street gangs who were burglarizing pharmacies from Texas to Virginia, according to a news release from Patrick C. Harris, acting USA attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

And a Houston doctor was accused of writing 12,000 prescriptions for opioids, enough for more than 2 million illegal doses, according to USA Today.

Sessions says the work of the Department of Justice will continue, adding "we will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are".

In another Arkansas case, a federal grand jury charged Erik Edson Turner of Flippin and two others with "conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Schedule II controlled substances without an effective prescription", according to the news release from Harris.

Around $108 million of the fraudulent billings came from Texas.

Nineteen of the 24 people charged in Arkansas have been arrested, said Chris Givens, assistant USA attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

32 suspects were charged in MI for for fraud, kickbacks, money laundering and drug diversion schemes involving US$ 218 million in false claims.

In all, the fraudulent insurance claims - many of which related to opioid painkillers - are said to total $1.3 billion. He cited six MI doctors, now defendants, who purportedly ran a ruse to prescribe patients unnecessary opioids "some of which ended up for sale on the street".

Seventeen defendants in California charged for their alleged roles in schemes to defraud Medicare out of approximately $147 million.

According to Sessions, nearly 300 health care providers are being suspended or banned from participating in federal health care programs. "We will bring you to justice, and you will pay a very high price for what you have done". Other patients got extreme opioid amounts, appeared to be "doctor shopping", and had multiple subscribers and pharmacies.

Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, two painkillers, are among the most frequently abused drugs in market. These figures, the OIG notes, do not include cancer or hospice patients. More than 52,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2015 - a record - and experts believe the numbers have continued to rise. "This is quite simply, an epidemic", said Chuck Rosenberg, acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) at the press conference.

Opioid addiction is a growing public health crisis in the US.