A 62 year old Maryland pharmacist was sentenced to 30 months in prison for healthcare fraud for billing Medicare and Medicaid for illegal prescriptions. The US Attorney says he’s no different than a drug dealer.
“Russo’s career as a pharmacist is over. Professionals, such as doctors and in this case a pharmacist, who knowingly abuse their power and the public trust are drug dealers, no different than the street dealers that sell illicit drugs,” stated Gary Tuggle, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office. “The abuse of diverted prescription pain medication is the fastest growing drug problem in our country and DEA remains committed to investigate this problem,” added Tuggle.
Russo made gross sales of nearly $700,000 a month for several months in 2010 – a dramatic increase over previous months. He also made at least 55 cash deposits between December 1, 2009 and June 15, 2010 totaling $862,000. Russo even maintained a cash counting machine in his pharmacy.”
The federal government continues to pursue pharmacists and doctors who bill Medicare and Medicaid improperly. Every day US Attorney offices report their indictments and prosecutions. Most pharmacists and doctors think this will never happen to them. But are you sure? What are you doing to make certain you are billing properly for the services you are providing? Do you know what the other pharmacists and doctors in your practice are doing? When is the last time you did an audit?
Any minimal compliance plan would have caught this activity. Why is it so easy for the government to find this type of egregious activity. What other healthcare practitioners – pharmacies and doctors – saw these patients? We must continue to work together to stop this fraud from happening. It hurts everyone in healthcare – as well as the patients. It effects the trust the public puts in the healthcare profession.
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