DOJ charges more than 400 people with healthcare fraud

WATCH LIVE | National healthcare fraud investigation leads to arrests in Kentucky and Indiana

WATCH LIVE | National healthcare fraud investigation leads to arrests in Kentucky and Indiana

"We are sending a clear message to criminals across this country; we will find you, we will bring you to justice, and you will pay a very high price for what you have done", Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters in Washington, DC on Thursday, describing the action that involved over 1,000 law enforcement agents across 30 USA states.

Sessions cited the example of a group in MI, including six doctors, who billed Medicare for $164 million in false claims by prescribing unnecessary opioids.

Providing details on some of the scams, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said a rehab clinic in Palm Beach, Florida, for instance, allegedly recruited opioid addicts with gift cards, visits to strip clubs and even drugs. Such prescription opioids are behind the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in USA history.

Many of those wanted in connection with the fraud were involved in pill mills, doctors offices and waiting rooms where individuals posed as patients, but were handed prescriptions by the fistful in exchange for below-the-table payments to the doctors. More than 52,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2015 - a record - and experts believe the numbers have continued to rise.

Sessions and Price were joined at the conference by acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, DEA Director Chuck Rosenberg and HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson. "They are a death sentence, plain and simple".

"They seem oblivious to the disastrous consequences of their greed", he said.

As part of the effort, 205 healthcare providers are being suspended or banned from participation in any federal healthcare program, Sessions explained.

"Their actions not only enrich themselves, often at the expense of taxpayers, but also feed addictions and cause addictions to start", Mr Sessions said in prepared remarks.

Health care fraud sweeps like Thursday's happen each year across the country, but law enforcement officials continue to grapple over the best way to fight the problem.

Some of those facing charges are alleged to have illegally billed federal health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that were either never purchased or never distributed to patients.

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