KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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412 Charged In DOJ’s Largest-Ever Health Care Fraud Takedown

“Too many trusted medical professionals like doctors, nurses and pharmacists have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients,” says Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Many of the crimes were related to the opioid epidemic sweeping the country.

Reuters: Doctors, Nurses Among Hundreds Charged With Defrauding U.S. Health Programs
A total of 412 people, including almost 115 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, have been charged in the sweeping enforcement action, the biggest ever by the multi-agency Medicare Strike Force, the Justice Department said in a statement. More than 120 people were accused of illegally prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics, charges that come as about 91 Americans die daily from opioid-related overdoses. (Simpson, 7/13)

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Charges More Than 400 With Committing Health Care Fraud
Justice Department officials said the charges were filed in the past few weeks, and the initiative was the “largest health-care fraud takedown operation” in U.S. history, Mr. Sessions said. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who represents one of the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, called the Justice Department action a “great first step” and a sign that the new presidential administration is taking the scourge seriously. (Wilber, 7/13)

Bloomberg: Trump’s First Health-Care Fraud Sweep Targets Doctors, Opioids
Sessions faulted the accused medical professionals of putting greed ahead of patients, turning practices into multimillion dollar criminal enterprises and ultimately sparking broader ills. “Their actions not only enrich themselves often at the expense of taxpayers but also feed addictions and cause addictions to start. The consequences are real: emergency rooms, jail cells, futures lost, and graveyards,” Sessions said. “We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are.” (Schoenberg and McLaughlin, 7/13)

Pioneer Press: 10 Minnesotans Linked To $1.3 Billion National Health Fraud Bust 
Ten Minnesotans were charged as part of a national health care fraud takedown, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced in a news conference Thursday morning. The “largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history,” according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, involved more than 400 licensed health professionals nationwide and totaled $1.3 billion in false billing. (Chavey, 7/13)

The Star Tribune: Minnesota AG Charges Three More With Personal Care Attendant Fraud
The Minnesota attorney general’s office charged three more people in connection with operating fraudulent personal care attendant agencies that stole more than $900,000 in tax funds meant to benefit people who need help with their daily living. ... The crackdown is part of a national effort, with the federal Department of Justice on Thursday announcing that 412 people have been charged with $1.3 billion in fraud. (Stahl, 7/13)

Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago-Area Medical Professionals Charged With Health Care Fraud 
The national enforcement action was taken by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to prevent and deter health care fraud around the country. Several defendants were from the Chicago area, including Beatta Kabbani, a physical therapist charged in a 13-count indictment with health care fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the feds. (7/13)

Miami Herald: Nationwide Medicare Fraud Bust Includes 80 Suspects In South Florida
More than 400 suspects nationwide have been charged with falsely billing $1.3 billion to the taxpayer-funded Medicare program as well as some private insurers, including about 80 defendants in South Florida — the country's epicenter of healthcare fraud, federal authorities said Thursday. Of the total nationwide, more than 100 suspects work as doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, who are charged with conspiracy and related offenses to defraud the massive government health insurance program. (Weaver, 7/13)

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