Over two dozen doctors, pharmacists and professionals in the medical industry have been charged with fraud by prosecutors in California on Thursday. The prosecutors claim that the defendants worked together in a multi-million dollar scheme to prescribe unnecessary treatments in order to bill workers’ compensation insurance.
At least 13,000 patients are said to have fallen victim to these schemes.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas and State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in a joint statement that Tanya Moreland King, 37, and husband Christopher King, 38, of Beverly Hills, owned three medical billing and management companies. They allegedly led the conspiracy that paid out $23 million, US News reports.
The statement goes on to say that the couple asked pharmacists and doctors to prescribe superfluous creams to patients, and to overbill insurance providers. The companies likewise overbilled for pain medications and ordered urine tests that were not needed, prosecutors added.
Patients have the right to expect treatment decisions by health care professionals are based on medical need and not unadulterated greed. The magnitude of this alleged crime is an affront to ethical medical professionals.
Charges have been announced against the Kings, 21 doctors, a doctor’s assistant, and two pharmacists on conspiracy to commit medical insurance fraud, among others. Named in the lawsuit are companies Monarch Medical Group Inc., King Medical Management Inc. and One Source Laboratories Inc.
One of the schemes was said to be at a pharmacy in Costa Mesa, California, where medical staff made compound creams that had unknown effects. These creams were prescribed by doctors in exchange for a flat fee from the comapnies or a share in the profits, authorities said.
In addition, workers’ compensation insurance carriers were billed over ten times more than the amount the Kings paid for the creams, investigators said.
“In order for the system to survive, we must have ethical doctors who abide by their Hippocratic oath to ‘do no harm,'” Rackauckas said in a report by the Los Angeles Times. “The intent of many of the laws surrounding the insurance industry is to keep the three Ps – physician, patients and profit — separate.”
The Kings and their lawyers have not yet responded to requests for comments on the issue.