Contributing to an Epidemic

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Throughout the United States, abuse of prescription narcotics is a serious problem affecting millions of people. (To make matters worse, doctors who violate the Hippocratic Oath tend to make the healing gods very angry.) According to The Detroit News, one Michigan doctor bilked Medicare and another insurance provider out of millions of dollars by prescribing narcotics and procedures that were not needed.

According to the story, the heedless health care provider prescribed more than 80,000 pills, including controlled medications such as Oxycodone, Roxicodone and other pain-killing medicine over the course of two years. The physician received patient data from marketers, data which was used to bill health insurance companies and Medicare for services and prescriptions related to non-existent health conditions and unnecessary treatments including x-rays and other invasive tests. (He also did not limit his fraudulent billing to the living; dead ”patients” were feeling no pain either.)

Reportedly, the doctor had a tendency to brag about having more than $20 million stashed, including about $1 million in his home. (He also sent money to Lebanon in a storage container—somehow I doubt it was labeled FRAGILE: LOTS OF CASH.) He was able to accumulate a large amount of wealth in part because he accepted about $20,000 a month in kickbacks from one recruiter who purchased the pills from the ”patients” and re-sold them to street dealers.

The story states that the 46-year-old physician pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and health care fraud charges in a federal court, and was sentenced to seven years in prison. He also has to repay $2.3 million in restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medicare as well as another $2.3 million to the government. (I bet he’s wishing he could prescribe a painkiller or two for himself.)

An attorney for the government stated that more people die from prescription drug overdoses in the United States than from any other combination of drug overdoses. Let’s hope that this fraud-addicted doctor’s conviction will stop others from contributing to this national epidemic.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Warren physician gets prison for health care fraud,” written by Jennifer Chambers and published by The Detroit News on Nov. 16, 2015.

A Warren physician was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday for writing prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled medications without medical justification and for health care fraud.

Hussein ”Sam” Awada, brother of former Wayne County economic development chief Turkia Mullin, also was ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution to Blue Cross and Medicare and to pay the government $2.3 million.

”More people die from overdoses of prescription drugs in America than from overdoses of all other drugs combined. We hope that prosecuting the doctors who are putting these drugs on the streets will deter others from contributing to this epidemic,” U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said in a statement.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.