(CNSNews.com) - With the nation experiencing its deadliest drug crisis ever, Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday announced the federal government is going after doctors and other health care providers who contribute to the problem.
“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. “Their actions not only enrich themselves, often at the expense of taxpayers, but also feed addictions and cause addictions to start.”
Working with the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Justice Department said it will charge 412 defendants, including 56 doctors, with health care fraud. He said collectively, they have defrauded taxpayers of $1.3 billion.
And 120 of those 412 defendants are charged with opioid-related crimes, Sessions said.
He talked about some of them:
One group of defendants, including six doctors, are alleged to have operated a scheme in Michigan to prescribe patients with unnecessary opioids, some of which ended up for sale on the street. These defendants allegedly billed Medicare for $164 million in false and fraudulent claims.
One fake rehab facility for drug addicts in Palm Beach is alleged to have recruited addicts with gift cards, visits to strip clubs, and even drugs, enabling the company to bill for over $58 million in false treatments and tests.
Another illegal clinic in Houston allegedly gave out prescriptions for cash. Just one doctor at this clinic allegedly gave out 12,000 opioid prescriptions for over 2 million illegal painkiller doses. These defendants have been charged and they will face justice.
Sessions said one American dies of a drug overdose every 11 minutes, and more than 2 million Americans are addicted to prescription painkillers.
“Every day, as a result of drug abuse, American families are being bankrupted and broken apart, friendships ended, and promising lives cut short. Drug addiction is causing more and more crime and violence in communities across the country.”
As a result of this latest health care fraud “take-down,” Sessions said 295 health care providers are now in the process of being suspended or banned from participation in federal health programs.
“And the effort is just beginning, he said:
“We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are. We will use every tool we have to stop criminals from exploiting vulnerable people and stealing our hard-earned tax dollars. We are continuing to work hard to develop even more techniques to identify and prosecute wrongdoers.
“We are sending a clear message to criminals across the country: we will find you. We will bring you to justice. And, you will pay a very high price for what you have done.”