FRANKFORT, KY - The United States Attorneys for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky announced the successful completion of their fifth statewide conference on combating health care fraud with a focus today on prescription drug abuse; one of our nation’s most urgent, destructive and widespread challenges.
“These conferences complement our efforts to root out health care fraud and recover funds for vital publicly funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid,” said Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
“These conferences have become a national model on how to employ all the tools available, through federal, state and private partnerships, to successfully combat health care fraud,” stated David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. “Senior officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Food and Drug Administration praised our Districts’ collaborative efforts with law enforcement agencies, during presentations today, on national trends in health care fraud,” concluded Hale.
More than 125 participants attended the day-long conference including federal and state law enforcement officials, state regulators and administrators, and private sector anti-fraud units. New tools to identify and analyze fraudulent schemes were discussed in the context of Medicare Part D prescription claims; misbranding and counterfeit drug schemes in the United States and abroad. A Representative from the Department of Veterans Affairs discussed its important role in combatting health care fraud.
Attendees heard from two attorneys who prosecuted groundbreaking prescription drug cases in the Eastern District of Kentucky. Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger West discussed the investigation and prosecution of a Louisiana pain clinic owner and two of his corporations that unlawfully dispensed thousands of pills to Kentuckians. The defendant, Michael Leman, was the first pain clinic owner ever prosecuted in Kentucky’s eastern district. He received 15 years in prison for conspiracies to launder money and distribute controlled substances. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Parman spoke about his prosecution of Judy McIntosh from Breathitt County who distributed Oxycodone to an individual that overdosed and died from the pills. A federal judge sentenced McIntosh to 27 years in prison. The case marked the Eastern District’s first federal prosecution of an individual for causing an overdose death on prescription drugs.
The Department of Justice has dedicated significant resources toward fighting health care fraud on a nation-wide basis. This effort by both Kentucky United States Attorneys reflects that priority.
Since 1986 more than $17 billion has been collected by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nation-wide from cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.
The recently enacted Affordable Care Act provides additional tools and resources to fight fraud in the health care system by providing an additional $350 million over the next 10 years through the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Account. The Act toughens sentencing for criminal activity, enhances screenings and enrollment requirements, encourages increased sharing of data across government, expands overpayment recovery efforts, and provides greater oversight of private insurance abuses. For information on the 2009 Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program Report, please visit: www.justice.gov/dag/pubdoc/hcfacreport2009.pdf .