“Takedown” alleged as largest ever in health care industry

We occasionally spotlight a discrete realm of concern that criminal law authorities are clearly focused upon in their investigatory probes and prosecutions.

And when we do that, many of our readers across Texas might duly note that news and reports centered on the health care arena are what frequently seem to come to the fore.

And that is indeed the case. As we noted in our immediately preceding blog post, the health care industry spells “a bulls-eye target for the probes of federal and state investigators.” Our July 12 entry stressed that health care fraud is “an apex concern of government regulators seeking to uncover and severely punish fraud-based behavior.”

As evident as that has been for at least the past couple years, it is even more apparent now, in the immediate wake of what U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week termed the “largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history.”

The material details released concerning the sting indeed reveal its unprecedented dimensions. Reportedly, more than 1,000 federal and state law enforcement agencies were involved in the collection of evidence and in subsequently making mass arrests of individuals who now find themselves as defendants in a matter where $1.3 billion in fraud is alleged.

In all, more than 400 people have been arrested, including scores of doctors across the country. One medical group operating in Houston is prominently mentioned in the probe.

Although fraud allegations relate to various matters, it is prescription fraud — especially for so-called “opioid” medications — that authorities seem to be most focused upon.

Although the fraud operation obviously spotlights a problem of unquestionably large magnitude, it also points to the potential for many providers who have no unlawful intentions whatever to become ensnared in health care fraud-related investigations, especially concerning their prescribing histories.

That concern is centrally implied by recent federal requirements ordering opioid makers to more carefully train doctors, pharmacists and nurses who prescribe and/or dole out such medicines.