- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2017

More than 400 people, including doctors, pharmacists and nurses, have been charged in connection with a massive health care fraud scheme that bilked the federal government of more than $1 billion, federal officials announced Thursday.

About a quarter of those were charged with fraud specifically related to opioids, said the officials from the Justice Department and Department of Health and Human Services.

Describing some of the cases brought, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said trusted medical professionals “have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the health care fraud bust targeted those who “maliciously contributed” to the nation’s opioid epidemic.

In all, 412 people, including 56 doctors, were charged as a result of the nationwide operation. The Justice Department said those accused have defrauded taxpayers of approximately $1.3 billion.

“Some doctors wrote out more prescriptions for controlled substances than entire hospitals were writing,” said FBI acting Director Andrew McCabe.

According to federal prosecutors, the individuals charged were involved in schemes in which they submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid for treatments that were either medically unnecessary or never provided.

Patient recruiters were used in some cases and paid cash kickbacks for collection beneficiary information for providers that would be used to submit fraudulent bills to the government.

“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,” Mr. Sessions said.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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