Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday that over 400 people were charged for their involvement in healthcare fraud that included $1.3 billion in false filings.
The charges are part of the "largest ever healthcare fraud enforcement action" by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, and included 115 doctors.
“Too many trusted medical professionals, like doctors, nurses, and pharmacists have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients,” Sessions said during a press conference.
“Amazingly, some have made their practices into multi-million dollar criminal enterprises. They seem oblivious to the disastrous consequences of their greed."
Defendants were charged for billing unnecessary prescriptions to Medicare, Medicaid and in some cases private insurance companies.
According to the Department of Justice, medications were commonly not dispersed to the beneficiaries, and sometimes cash kickbacks were provided for those who gave information on beneficiaries to fraudulently bill to Medicare.
Of the defendants, almost 80 were located in South Florida, a hotbed for healthcare fraud, according to federal authorities Thursday, according to the Miami Herald. These charges included more than $140 million in fraudulent filings to Medicare and private insurance companies.
In one Florida case, defendants Eric Snyder and Christopher Fuller lured addicted patients to sober homes in Delray Beach by offering kickbacks, including gift cards, airline travel, drugs and trips to a casino and a strip club, and then used the patients' information to bill insurance companies for fake drug treatment, the Miami Herald reported.
“Last year, an estimated 59,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, many linked to the misuse of prescription drugs. This is, quite simply, an epidemic,” said acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration Charles Rosenberg during the press conference.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force began in 2007 and includes participation from the FBI and DEA. The force has so far charged over 3,500 defendants for $12.5 billion in false Medicare filings.
"While today is a historic day, the Department's work is not finished," Sessions said. "In fact, it is just beginning. We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are."
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