Doctor Who Gave Away Free Hams Charged with Health Fraud

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses a news conference to announce a nation-wide health care fraud and opioid enforcement action at the Justice Department in Washington

The Department of Justice on Thursday announced charges against 601 people allegedly responsible for $2 billion in health care fraud, including 65 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals. One hundred and sixty-two of the defendants were charged "for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other unsafe narcotics", according to a press release by the Department of Justice.

Sessions also touted law enforcement amid national efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Notably, however, the DOJ emphasized what it described as a "particular focus on medical professionals involved in the unlawful distribution of opioids and other prescription narcotics".

The strike force location with the most suspects charged was the Southern District of Florida, where 124 defendants were accused of participating in schemes involving more than $337 million in false billings.

About 460,000 patients covered by Medicare received high amounts of opioids in 2017 and 71,000 were at risk of misuse or overdose, according to a report released on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Among the accused are 76 doctors, 23 pharmacists and 19 nurses.

The facility submitted more than $106 million in claims for addiction treatment services.

Omar Zoobi, a pharmacist and co-owner of Metro Pharmacy and Metro Rx Pharmacy LLC, and Gregory Sikorski, a physician's assistant: are included in a 10-count indictment charging each with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, four counts of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the US and pay and receive health care kickbacks. Dr. Reddy also was charged with conspiracy for unlawfully allowing nurse practitioners to use his DEA number to prescribe controlled substances, officials said.

The defendants allegedly recruited patients, paid kickbacks, and defrauded health care benefit programs for widespread fraudulent urine testing.

"Health care fraud is theft and it's drug dealing", Coleman said. The alleged fraud included kickback schemes for surgeries, compounded drugs, home health services, Medicare Part D prescription drugs and hospice care.

In yet another case, seven people were named in an indictment alleging multiple health care fraud conspiracies in which the owner of two pharmacies submitted claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal for expensive, brand-name prescription drugs that were never dispensed to patients. "Health care fraud costs the country tens of billions of dollars a year, and the FBI seeks to identify and pursue investigations against the most egregious offenders involved in health care fraud through investigative partnerships with other federal agencies".

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