Health care fraud crackdowns initiated to catch those who defraud within the health care industry are common, but a couple of the most recent crackdowns have targeted one segment of the industry in particular that some may argue Florida desperately needs to be clean and honest. The drug and addiction treatment industry exists to support recovering drug and alcohol addicts who come to the facilities ideally to seek treatment and rid themselves of a dangerous addiction in order to live a healthier life. However, through evidence collected during one local and one national crackdown, a dark picture of the operation of these facilities has emerged.
Local Drug Recovery Facility Crackdown
Earlier this summer, a team of investigators out of Palm Beach County arrested close to 30 individuals for breaking laws while running drug treatment centers. Some of these people were accused of the illegal practice of brokering patients, which is the act of offering or paying a commission, kickback, or bribe in order to promote the referral of patients to or from a health care provider. In this case, these businesses were illegally paying for patients to be referred to them and then billing insurance companies for pricy tests for these patients. The owner of one of the facilities was held on 100 charges of patient brokering.
Many of these arrests have been settled by the accused agreeing to plea deals in order to avoid prison time and the stigma of being a convicted felon. However, one of the consequences associated with these deals is that these individuals will not be allowed to enter the drug treatment industry again. Officials are hoping that these types of crackdowns will discourage others in the industry from illegal behavior.
Nationwide Crackdown Charges 80+ in Florida
More than 80 people in Florida were charged in a nationwide crackdown on health care fraud and opioid scams that totaled $1.3 billion in fraudulent billings, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 400 people were charged nationally in what Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, calls the “largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history”.
In South Florida alone, 77 were charged in schemes totally $141 million in false billings. These individuals were accused of fraud in areas such as home health care services, mental health, and pharmacy fraud. One of those charged was the owner of an addiction treatment facility who is accused of submitting $58 million in false insurance claims for treatment. The owner of the facility was charged with recruiting addicts to Florida, billing insurance agencies, and then giving the addicts gift cards, free airline travel, trips to casinos and strip clubs, and even drugs.
Nationally, over 120 people were involved in illegally prescribing and distributing narcotic painkillers. These opioid drugs are the same drugs that are behind some of the deadliest drug overdoses, and also what we are experiencing now with the opioid crisis across the state and nation. In total, almost 300 healthcare providers are being suspended or banned from participating in Federal health care programs due to their negligence and illegal billing practices.
If you have been accused of a crime on a state or federal level, it’s important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you navigate the criminal justice system and better understand your charge and the options available to you.
Baitinger, B. (2017, July 10). How authorities arrested 28 in a drug-recovery industry crackdown. Retrieved July 25, 2017, from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-pn-task-force-arrests-20170630-story.html
87 In Florida Charged In National Health Care Fraud Crackdown. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2017, from http://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/post/87-florida-charged-national-health-care-fraud-crackdown#stream/0