601 people arrested in $2 billion health care scheme, officials say

HOUSTON – The United States Justice Department charged more than 600 people in what they are calling the largest health care fraud takedown in history.

In video seen only on KPRC, FBI agents raided the office of a home health care company in Stafford on Tuesday.

Agents executed a search warrant at the business located off Corporate Drive near Dairy Ashford.

Nationwide, 165 nurses and other licensed medical professionals were arrested in connection with false billings that total more than $2 billion. Among the arrests, 76 doctors were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other narcotics, according to a release from the Justice Department. 

Authorities said the nationwide schemes involved billing Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and other medications that were sometimes never purchased or distributed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 115 Americans die each day from opioid-related overdoses.

“Health care fraud is a betrayal of vulnerable patients, and often it is theft from the taxpayer,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  “In many cases, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists take advantage of people suffering from drug addiction in order to line their pockets. These are despicable crimes. That’s why this Department of Justice has taken historic new steps to go after fraudsters, including hiring more prosecutors and leveraging the power of data analytics. Today the Department of Justice is announcing the largest health care fraud enforcement action in American history.  This is the most fraud, the most defendants, and the most doctors ever charged in a single operation—and we have evidence that our ongoing work has stopped or prevented billions of dollars’ worth of fraud. I want to thank our fabulous partners with the FBI, DEA, our Health Care Fraud task forces, HHS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, IRS Criminal Investigation, Medicare, and especially the more than 1,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers from across America who made this possible. By every measure we are more effective at finding and prosecuting medical fraud than ever.”

“Every dollar recovered in this year’s operation represents not just a taxpayer’s hard-earned money—it’s a dollar that can go toward providing health care for Americans in need,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar III.  “This year’s Takedown Day is a significant accomplishment for the American people, and every public servant involved should be proud of their work.”

HHS also announced Thursday that since July 2017, it has excluded 2,700 individuals from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and all other federal health care programs, which includes 587 providers, for conduct related to opioid diversion and abuse.