Government robbed of millions for fraudulent prescriptions

Government bilked out of millions over fake prescriptions for dangerous addictive drugs. Oversight is lax at best. U.S. Senator calls for reform.

We, the taxpayers pay an estimated $60 BILLION dollars every year to criminals engaged in health care fraud. A new study reveals that the government (that’s us the hard working taxpayer) is getting robbed blind over fraudulent prescriptions for addictive drugs.

U.S. Senator Tom Carper , Democrat from Delaware called for an investigation. The results  and the report are astonishing.  The gist of it is that the government has not been checking to make sure the provider numbers on the prescriptions are valid or accurate. Furthermore, pharmacies have been pushing through prescriptions that lacked the requisite valid prescriber number. Therefore, criminals have been able to bilk us out of millions over fake prescriptions.

I was alarmed to read a quote from a government  spokesman who essentially said the government operated on blind trust. According to Peter Ashkenaz a spokesman for the Office of Inspector General (OIG),

"In the past the plan[medicare and medicaid] operated with the belief that everybody is honest. When we identify ways of finding who the bad actors are, then we take the steps to tighten it up.”

As it turns out, the study revealed that the government cannot even identify who the top prescribers of addictive drugs are. Not only would this help root out medicare and medicaid fraud, but it could also identify pill mills and keep addictive dangerous drugs off the streets.

 “Just as the disturbing as the potential misuse of taxpayer dollars is the threat that these vulnerabilities pose to American communities struggling with illegal drug use,” Senator Carper.

I totally agree with Senator Carper. You see, it’s not just the millions of dollars that are stolen from taxpayers, but think of where these drugs are going? We know there is a high demand and high street value for prescription drugs like oxycontin, xanax, hydrocodone, ritalin, soma, methadone, etc. 

Shutting down pill mills and getting dangerous prescription drugs off the streets saves lives.

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Money Before Medicine

Schneider duo found guilty of operating pill mill.

On its seventh day of deliberations, a federal jury on Thursday, June 24 found Kansas  doctor Stephen Schneider and his nurse wife Linda Schneider guilty of conspiring to profit from illegally prescribing painkillers to patients, many of whom later died. The jury also found the Schneiders guilty on five counts of unlawfully writing prescriptions and on 11 health care fraud counts. The jury found Linda Schneider guilty of 15 money laundering charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway prosecuted the case, which consumed eight weeks of trial. In a 34-count indictment, the Schneiders were charged with conspiring to illegally distribute prescription drugs that contributed to 21 deaths, fraud, and money laundering. The prosecution put on evidence of 176 overdoses and 68 deaths related to the pill mill.

This was a case of “money before medicine,” Tanya Treadway said. According to the prosecution, about half of the 10,000 patients treated at the Schneider Medical Clinic received pain medication. The clinic was open 11 hours a day every day, had 14 exam rooms and  scheduled patients 10 minutes apart.  Prosecutors allege the clinic made $7 million in a little over four years through health care fraud. The Schneiders pocketed about $1.5 million. The prosecution put on evidence of 176 overdoses and 68 deaths related to the pill mill.

Dr. Schneider’s attorney, reportedly supported by the advocacy group Pain Relief Network that advocates for the right to pain treatment, argued that Dr. Schneider acted “with a pure heart.” He said that “what [Dr. Schneider] did with his patients, he did so innocently, he did so honestly, and he did so courageously.”

 

Curiously, Dr. Schneider chose to drive a bright yellow hummer emblazoned with skull and crossbones to and from the pill mill on a daily basis. I wonder what kind of message he was trying to send? Was he  in a state of deep denial or did he have  so little fear of ever being prosecuted for his pill peddling that he felt bulletproof? We will probably never know, but I am sure the vehicle represents to the victims everything that was wrong with the Schneiders and their so called medical practice.

Sentencing has not yet been set. The Schneiders could face up to a life sentence.  The Schneiders also will stand trial in several civil wrongful death lawsuits which have been filed against them.
 

 We applaud the courage of Tanya Treadway in stepping up to the plate to prosecute this case.  It takes hard work and effort to bring persons such as these to justice.  Prosecutions such as these must continue to happen. Pill mill operators need to go to jail  just like persons who peddle street drugs go to jail. Pill mill operators must also be held liable for monetary damages for the devastation that they are causing while lining their pockets with blood money.Hopefully, the combination of vigorous criminal and civil prosecution will stem the tide of prescription drug overdose deaths.
 

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