Government Cracks Down on Healthcare Fraud Scheme Exploiting Prescription Medications
In a significant breakthrough in the fight against healthcare fraud, two doctors have been charged with orchestrating a scheme that involved submitting fraudulent claims for corticosteroid injections and other services that were never performed. The healthcare professionals also faced charges for unlawfully distributing hydrocodone, a controlled substance. This announcement was made by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Leigha Simonton.
Dr. Desi Barroga, aged 51, and Dr. Deno Barroga, also 51, were indicted on multiple charges of healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. They were accused of operating a pain management clinic in Dallas where patients would receive prescriptions for high doses of hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine. However, investigations revealed that the doctors manipulated the system by submitting claims to insurance companies that falsely represented the patients receiving numerous corticosteroid injections, despite them receiving only a few or none at all. To create the illusion of medical procedures, the doctors would place a needle on the patient’s body without piercing the skin.
The scale of this fraudulent operation is staggering, with the doctors allegedly billing healthcare benefit programs more than $50 million and pocketing approximately $12 million for these deceitful services. The funds obtained through this fraudulent scheme were used to enrich themselves at the expense of patients’ health and well-being.
If convicted, the accused doctors face severe penalties, including up to ten years in federal prison for each count of healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. Additionally, they could face up to twenty years in prison for the unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. Furthermore, they will be required to forfeit any proceeds or property acquired through their criminal activities.
This investigation was a collaborative effort by various agencies, including the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration Dallas Field Division Diversion Group, and the Texas Department of Insurance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Renee Hunter will be prosecuting the case.
It is essential to remain vigilant in the fight against healthcare fraud, as it not only drains valuable resources but also poses a significant risk to patients who may unknowingly receive subpar or non-existent medical treatments.
Q: What were the fraudsters charged with?
A: The fraudsters were charged with submitting fraudulent claims for corticosteroid injections and other services that were not performed and unlawfully distributing hydrocodone.
Q: How did the doctors manipulate the system?
A: The doctors manipulated the system by submitting false claims to insurance companies, indicating that patients received numerous corticosteroid injections when they received only a few or none at all.
Q: How much money did they fraudulently obtain?
A: The doctors billed healthcare benefit programs over $50 million and were paid around $12 million for their fraudulent services.
Q: What are the potential penalties if convicted?
A: If convicted, the doctors face up to ten years in federal prison for each count of healthcare fraud and conspiracy, and up to twenty years for the unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. They will also have to forfeit any proceeds or property linked to their criminal activities.
Q: Which agencies were involved in the investigation?
A: The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration Dallas Field Division Diversion Group, and the Texas Department of Insurance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Renee Hunter is prosecuting the case.