WASHINGTON D.C. (KETK) - Two greater East Texas area arrests were made in what is being called the largest ever healthcare fraud enforcement action.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), two defendants were charged in the Eastern District of Texas for their role in healthcare fraud schemes to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The names of the suspects and their locations were not immediately available upon request from the Department of Justice.
Overall, 601 people were charged for a combined $2 billion in fraud. The action included 165 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals. Seventy-six doctors in all were charged for prescribing and distributing opioids and other narcotics.
The charges targeted schemes billing Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE (a health insurance program for members and veterans of the armed forces and their families), and private insurance companies for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications that often were never even purchased and/or distributed to beneficiaries.
“Health care fraud is a betrayal of vulnerable patients, and often it is theft from the taxpayer,” said Attorney General Sessions. “In many cases, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists take advantage of people suffering from drug addiction in order to line their pockets. These are despicable crimes. That’s why this Department of Justice has taken historic new steps to go after fraudsters, including hiring more prosecutors and leveraging the power of data analytics.
"Today the Department of Justice is announcing the largest health care fraud enforcement action in American history. This is the most fraud, the most defendants, and the most doctors ever charged in a single operation—and we have evidence that our ongoing work has stopped or prevented billions of dollars’ worth of fraud. I want to thank our fabulous partners with the FBI, DEA, our Health Care Fraud task forces, HHS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, IRS Criminal Investigation, Medicare, and especially the more than 1,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers from across America who made this possible. By every measure we are more effective at finding and prosecuting medical fraud than ever.”
According to the CDC, approximately 115 Americans die every day of an opioid-related overdose.