The Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other federal departments, revealed on Thursday the largest crackdown on health care fraud in US history.
"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. Sessions admitted to having the interactions, but said they were held in his capacity as a US senator, a position he occupied for 20 years before becoming attorney general.
In what federal officials Thursday called the "largest ever health care fraud enforcement action" by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, 412 individuals, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were arrested in a nationwide operation that involved more than 1,000 law enforcement agents in at least 30 states.
The opioid addiction epidemic has attracted fraudsters who "look at this national scourge, and they see an opportunity to profit from their fellow citizen's suffering and pain", said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
He said it was the single largest roundup of opioid-related crimes by healthcare providers in the nation's history.More news: Unemployment Claims Up, Slightly, In US
"The consequences are real: emergency rooms, jail cells, futures lost and graveyards".
The Southern California News Group recently investigated the addiction industry and found it peppered with financial abuses that bleed untold millions from public and private pockets, can upend neighborhoods and often fails to set addicts on a path to sobriety. In one case, nine defendants, including six doctors, were charged with prescribing medically unnecessary drugs, some of which were sold on the street.
Health care fraud is a persistent problem for the federal health insurance systems. According to the charges, the women submitted claims for personal care assistant services not rendered, used care providers' identities to submit false claims without their permission, and paid unlawful kickbacks to induce recipients to become and remain clients of the agency.
Referring to so-called sanctuary cities, Sessions said one problem is the refusal of 300 USA jurisdictions to hand over illegal immigrants who commit crimes to federal immigration authorities.