601 people were arrested as part of a major sweep and Jeff Sessions had the pleasure of announcing it. If they’re all convicted, then that makes it quite an impressive shakedown that makes them all criminals. Of course, they all have to be found guilty and are presumed to be innocent until found guilty, but this was a huge bust that found hundreds of people wishing they were not associated with it.
With the opioid crisis still in full swing with researchers recently reporting an additional 70,000 opioid-related deaths not added to official statistics over the past 20 years, the Department of Justice made the announcement the conclusion of a year-long crackdown on opioid over-prescribers led to the indictment of more than 600 people. Of those indicted on health care fraud charges, 76 were doctors and 165 nurses and other licensed medical professionals were arrested and charged with crimes resulting in more than $2 billion in losses for Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare, as well as private insurers.
The DOJ is calling this the “largest health care fraud enforcement action in Department of Justice history” and it resulted in 84 opioid cases involving more than 13 million illegal doses of opioids. 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.
The DOJ stated in part in a press release:
“These charges are part of the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, involving 601 charged defendants across 58 federal districts, including 165 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving more than $2 billion in false billings. Of those charged, 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics. Thirty state Medicaid Fraud Control Units also participated in today’s arrests. In addition, HHS announced today that from July 2017 to the present, it has excluded 2,700 individuals from participation in Medicare, Medicaid, and all other federal health care programs, which includes 587 providers excluded for conduct related to opioid diversion and abuse.
The charges announced today aggressively target schemes billing Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and private insurance companies for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications that often were never even purchased and/or distributed to beneficiaries. The charges also involve individuals contributing to the opioid epidemic, including medical professionals involved in the unlawful distribution of opioids and other prescription narcotics, a particular focus for the Department. ”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke of the significant undertaking by the DOJ, accusing the fraudsters of siphoning off US tax dollars and wasting money that was earmarked for military health care. Of note, one doctor, in particular, was charged with defrauding Medicare of more than $112 million by distributing 2.2 million unnecessary doses of opioids. 16 of the doctors swept up in the takedown were responsible for circulating more than 20.3 million pills illegally.
Sessions stated: “Health care fraud is a betrayal of vulnerable patients, and often it is theft from the taxpayer. 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.”
According to documents filed with the courts, Defendants are accused of participating in “schemes to submit claims to Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and private insurance companies for treatments that were medically unnecessary and often never provided. In many cases, patient recruiters, beneficiaries, and other co-conspirators were allegedly paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, so that the providers could then submit fraudulent bills to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary or never performed. Collectively, the doctors, nurses, licensed medical professionals, health care company owners and others charged are accused of submitting a total of over $2 billion in fraudulent billings. The number of medical professionals charged is particularly significant because virtually every health care fraud scheme requires a corrupt medical professional to be involved in order for Medicare or Medicaid to pay the fraudulent claims. Aggressively pursuing corrupt medical professionals not only has a deterrent effect on other medical professionals but also ensures that their licenses can no longer be used to bilk the system.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the U.S. in 2016 alone, with more than 64,000 Americans dying in total stemming from drug overdoses as a whole in 2016. It is likely that total deaths climbed in 2017, possibly past the 70,000 mark. As a result of this epidemic, life expectancy in the United States has fallen for the second straight year in 2017.
President Trump Announced How He Just Got Mexico To Pay For The Wall
When President Trump said he would have Mexico pay for the wall on our southern border, he meant it. He just announced how they are going to do it too… through the USMCA (the revision of NAFTA). Which I suspect was the plan all along.
Very early this morning at about 4:38 am, Trump tweeted: “I often stated, “One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.” This has never changed. Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA, is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!”
Do you think Facebook should be regulated so they're forced to treat everyone the same, regardless of their political beliefs, considering their size and influence in society?
— Amanda Shea (@TheAmandaShea) December 13, 2018
For those doubters on Twitter (and you will see some of them below), I highly doubt the plan was ever to have Mexico pay for the wall up front. We would fund the wall and recoup the funding from Mexico. I don’t see what is so hard to understand about that. But it seems to be a financial move many can’t seem to grasp and that is beyond their comprehension.
SIGN PETITION DEMANDING TRUMP BUILD THE WALL 75,000 HAVE SIGNED
I fully support that if Congress just won’t fund the wall, having the military build it through Pentagon funding and then reimbursing them for it. Why? Because it is a national security issue and always has been. That border is a clear and present danger.
Why shouldn’t Trump have Mexico pay through the USMCA? And why all the negativity from people who are obviously poorly informed and just politically biased? They let their hate for the president dictate all their thoughts and actions rather than looking at the mechanics of the move and the benefits from it. I just don’t get these people. They have not even given this a chance and already they are shooting it down. That’s a leftist for you.
Check out the moves on Twitter over this:
I often stated, “One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.” This has never changed. Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA, is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018
The government didn’t spend or receive money from NAFTA. So unless you’re going to raise taxes, there is no money coming into the government from the new deal.
— pastajoe (@pastajoe5) December 13, 2018
Good, now you can stop bothering Chuck and Nancy about getting our money for it.
— S.Danielle (@sdanielle) December 13, 2018
I am losing faith in you, sir. Why are you asking us taxpayers for 5 billion dollars if the new deal will pay for the wall? You promised that we wouldn’t have to pay for it! Please keep your promise, a free border wall, or I will not vote for you again. #NoWallNoVote pic.twitter.com/eDopbpl7T1
— Ridgely Gibbs (@Patriots4Truth_) December 13, 2018
Also the deal still has to be ratified and approved by Congress which probably won't happen until the end of 2019 Or possibly mid 2020. So you're making promises using money you don't have and may possibly not get. What a shocker Mr. Bankruptcy
— Alan Volante (@VolanteAlan) December 13, 2018
Well wait until that money is coming in and build it then
— Caren Sykes (@misscsykes12) December 13, 2018
I've decided I'm not buying a Maga hat from you, but instead spend the money on drugs. So, now you pay for my drugs.
— Vincent Carmiggelt (@graphincent) December 13, 2018
Great so you don't need a penny from Congress or US Taxpayers then. Let us know when Mexico sends you the check for the $5 billion you want for the first payment on the wall. Until then don't bother Americans for the $.
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) December 13, 2018
No, this means consumers will pay for the wall.
— Carolyn McClanahan (@CarolynMcC) December 13, 2018
If you buy something that normally costs $1000 on sale for $750, you didn't save $250. You spent $750.
— Cannie Ware (@CannieW) December 13, 2018
— ????????❌TrumpedUp❌???????? (@TrumpedUp20) December 13, 2018
Bait and switch
— Greg Stanton (@GregStanton) December 13, 2018
Jeez… I saw that one coming.
— Honest Abe (@honestpotus16) December 13, 2018
Most of these people don’t seem to get that a great deal of the funding for the wall was approved before Trump started all of this. I have never seen so many people so intent on leaving themselves open to attack. What a bunch of foolish, self-involved individuals. Just sad. Build the wall whatever it takes and do it fast before one of our many enemies gets a chance to severely cripple this nation once again.
Illegal Invader Collides With Major Karma After Leaving Church – Should’ve Listened!
An illegal alien was busted in North Carolina last week after leaving a church to meet for a scheduled appointment with immigration officials. Samuel Oliver-Bruno, 47, was evidently living for almost a year in the basement of a Methodist church while trying to get his deportation to Mexico delayed. ICE doesn’t make arrests in churches so they waited until he left this one.
Oliver-Bruno was asked to provide his fingerprints to move his petition forward. He was promptly arrested in the USCIS office when he arrived. To be fair, this guy is a convicted criminal and is not some innocent victim here. Clergy from the church formed a human wall around the vehicle taking him to detention, singing “Amazing Grace” and chanting “Let him stay!” Several were arrested. The Hill has more on this misguided intervention:
An undocumented man was arrested in North Carolina on Friday after leaving a church to meet for a scheduled appointment with immigration officials, The News & Observer reported.
Samuel Oliver-Bruno, 47, was living in the basement of Durham’s CityWell United Methodist Church for nearly a year while he petitioned for his deportation to Mexico to be delayed. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not make arrests in churches.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asked Oliver-Bruno to appear in person to provide his fingerprints in order for his petition to be processed. He was then arrested inside the USCIS office, the paper reported.
“Mr. Oliver-Bruno is a convicted criminal who has received all appropriate legal process under federal law, has no outstanding appeals, and has no legal basis to remain in the U.S.,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Bryan Cox told The News & Observer in a statement.
Faith leaders and church members who had accompanied Oliver-Bruno formed a human wall around the vehicle taking him to detention, singing “Amazing Grace” and chanting “Let him stay!” Several were arrested, according to CNN.
“It was presented as a legitimate appointment but ICE utilized due process as bait,” Cleve May, a pastor at the church, told CNN. “So we went to the appointment with him, to offer protection, knowing that ICE could not be trusted. We were thinking we would be in and out in 30 minutes.”
“Samuel’s sudden and inappropriate arrest in the middle of the Thanksgiving season reflects the callous and cruel approach we’ve come to expect from the Trump administration. As Members of Congress representing the Durham community, we will continue to do everything in our power to keep the Oliver-Bruno family together,” they said.
“In a call with us this afternoon, ICE has committed to allow Mr. Oliver-Bruno to remain in the U.S. in detention while his case is adjudicated. While this means he will not be immediately deported, we remain committed to fighting for his release.”
Oliver-Bruno was arrested in El Paso, Texas, in 2014 after using a Texas birth certificate to enter the U.S., according to CNN. He lived for 11 months in sanctuary at the Durham church, where he helped with renovations, including a bedroom and shower after CityWell agreed to take him in the facility.
Oliver-Bruno said he feared he will be deported, leaving behind his son and wife, who has lupus and depends on her husband financially, the News & Observer reported.
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