United States Settles Health Care Fraud Action Involving Doctor Who Prescribed Unnecessary Opioid Prescriptions
A doctor who practiced in Warren, Michigan, agreed to pay $200,000 to resolve allegations that he violated the False Claims Act by writing prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled medications without medical justification, and for billing for medical services without medical justification, announced U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.
From 2010 through early 2012, Hussein Awada, 46, conspired with patient “marketers” to write prescriptions for tens of thousands of dosages of oxycodone and other controlled medications for no medical purpose. Awada then used the patient data for the patients brought to him by the marketers to submit bills to Medicare for services that were either never performed or were medically unjustified. Awada caused these same patients to receive medically unnecessary monthly x-rays, and other invasive tests, to help conceal his fraud.
In a related criminal action, Awada previously pled guilty to prescribing 80,000 dosages of oxycodone and Roxicodone for no legitimate medical reason, and he admitted to defrauding Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of about $2.3 million. Awada was sentenced to 84 months in prison and was ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution. To help pay the restitution, Awada was ordered to forfeit assets. To settle his civil liability under the False Claims Act, Awada agreed to pay an additional $200,000.
The allegations in the civil False Claims Act suit were brought to the government by a whistleblower, known as a relator, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The relator, Heather Henson, worked as a receptionist for Awada at his medical practice Midwest Family Practice, PLC during a six-month period from 2010 to 2011. Henson will receive $36,000 out of the $200,000 settlement, as well as a portion of the assets Awada forfeits, for her role in filing the qui tam action.
"Prescription pain pills like oxycodone are controlled substances because their abuse can lead to addiction, illness and death,” McQuade said. “This settlement demonstrates that doctors pay a substantial price when they seek to profit by prescribing medically unnecessary prescription drugs and services that may harm their patients."
This case was investigated jointly by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan and the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
The case is captioned as United States ex rel. Henson v. Midwest Family Practice, PLC et al., Case No. 2:13-cv-14579 (E.D. Mich.). The related criminal action is captioned as United States v. Awada, Case No. 2:12-cr-20595 (E.D. Mich.).