Doctors Among Dozens Charged in Southland Health Care Fraud Sweep

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar arrive for a news conference to announce a nation-wide health care fraud and opioid enforcement action at the Justice Department in Washington U.S. Ju

The Department of Justice announced its largest healthcare fraud takedown ever, charging 601 people for falsely billing Medicare, Medicaid and the US military's TRICARE program to the tune of more than $2 billion.

Federal officials launched a massive crackdown on health care fraud across the country, targeting 601 people blamed for $2 billion in fraud losses.

Of those charged, 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and unsafe narcotics.

This announcement appears to reflect both an ongoing commitment by the DOJ to prosecute health care fraud and opioid abuse cases, and that the emphasis by HHS on administratively excluding providers has become a part of the enforcement landscape over the past year.

While the Justice Department has been conducting investigations into some opioid manufacturers like OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP, the cases stemming from the sweep did not focus on wrongdoing by major corporations.

The alleged schemes involved medically unnecessary prescription narcotics that often were not distributed to patients, according to the Justice Department.

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Some other cases involved schemes to bill the government healthcare programs Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare as well as private insurers for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications.

The U.S. Justice Department has announced charges against more than 600 people, including doctors, for taking part in health care frauds. Collectively, the doctors, nurses, licensed medical professionals, health care company owners and others charged are accused of submitting a total of over $2 billion in fraudulent billings. He thanked law enforcement agencies for their investigations.

"These are despicable crimes", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is committed to continuing to work with our federal partners to uncover waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid systems", said Stormy Kelly, Division Chief within the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Office of Texas Attorney General. They were all participants in fraud schemes, which resulted in the Department of health lost more than $ 2 billion. The group faces charges for their alleged roles in how they prescribed addictive opioid painkillers.

In numerous cases patient recruiters, beneficiaries and others involved in the schemes were paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, allowing the providers to submit fraudulent bills to Medicare, according to court documents.

The indictment charges Irena Shut, 41, an attorney who lives in Hidden Hills, with paying kickbacks to two podiatrists to authorize prescriptions written on pre-printed prescription pads created to maximize insurance payments, regardless of the medical need for an expensive compounded formulary for each "patient".

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