Justice Dept. announces crackdown on opioid abuse by doctors

Justice Dept. announces crackdown on opioid abuse by doctors

The Justice Department's LGBTQ affinity group also celebrated Pride month in June, though it remains unclear what administration officials said at the event, because it too was closed to the press.

The names of those arrested weren't immediately available, and it did not appear that California was a primary focus of the action, despite recurring reports of fraudulent practices in Southern California's large addiction-treatment industry.

Mr. Sessions has emphasized cracking down on drug crime as a priority, directing the nation's prosecutors in May to be maximally tough in charging such crimes, even when they may carry mandatory minimum prison sentences.

"For most Americans, the opioid crisis tearing apart families and communities across our land is a cause of great sadness and sympathy", Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said. "This is an epidemic".

In South Florida alone, the roughly 80 newly charged defendants were accused of submitting more than $140 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for services that were either not necessary or provided, according to the US attorney's office in Miami.

Sessions cited the example of a group in MI, including six doctors, who billed Medicare for $164 million in false claims by prescribing unnecessary opioids.

A clinic in Houston allegedly gave out prescriptions for cash.

The Justice Department enforcement action will target hundreds of people nationwide who run drug addiction treatment centers and who have filed bogus claims, as well as those who have filed reimbursement claims for drugs they sold illegally, Bloomberg cited one of the people as saying. And a rehab facility for drug addicts in Palm Beach that is alleged to have recruited addicts with gift cards, visits to strip clubs and drugs billed the government for over $58 million in false treatments and tests. "Many who succumb to the lure of the opioid high are kids..."

"Some doctors were writing more prescriptions than entire hospitals", McCabe said.

Also in California, four people were charged in a drug-diversion scheme and a health-care fraud scheme involving kickbacks. "It not only represents a theft from taxpayers who fund these vital programs, but impacts the millions of Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid".