On July 13, 2017, the Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services, announced the largest series of health care charges in American history. The government charged 412 individuals, including 56 doctors, with over $1.3 billion in alleged health care damages.
The charges largely allege improper billing of Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compound medications and unlawful distribution of opioids and other prescription narcotics. In Georgia, the government charged three defendants with allegations of nearly $1.5 million in erroneous billing arising from prescribing and billing opioids and other narcotics.
Opioids have become a target area for health care fraud investigators, as the CDC estimates 91 Americans die every day from opioid-related overdose. In his recent announcement on this takedown, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reported that “[o]ne American dies of a drug overdose every 11 minutes and more than 2 million Americans are ensnared in addiction to prescription painkillers.” During this address, Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration, also cited an estimated 59,000 deaths from drug use in the United States last year.
Sessions also reported that “the Department’s work is not finished. In fact, it is just beginning,” signaling the Government’s intent to continue investigating and prosecuting prescription drug related claims.