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Quote of the Day: “A tsunami” of healthcare fraud faced by the Department of Health and Human Services

2018-05-02

An investigator at the Department of Health and Human Services, Michael Cohen, told me [Evan Hughes] the federal government faces an overwhelming amount of health care fraud: “We call it a tsunami.” (from a NYT magazine article  by Evan Hughes)

The article is about transdermal immediate-release fentanyl prescribing and reveals Insys, in particular, is paying kickbacks to high-prescribing doctors disguised as “speaker fees.”  The article details the abuses and names names, but this issue is bigger even than opioids and goes directly to the failure of medicine in the United States to serve the patient as a result of its fee-for-service and entrepreneur/capitalist basis.

The practice of paying “speaker fees” is a long-standing and poorly disguised form of kickbacks given mostly to specialists who are paid to give speeches to groups of doctors extolling the use of certain drugs, which happen to be sold by the companies that pay the “speaker fees.”  Insys has weaponized the “speaker fee” by simply paying doctors who are high prescribers (based on databases of doctors and which drugs they prescribe) and having them give dinners for staff and friends at expensive restaurants… sometimes with a few licensed physicians in attendance, sometimes not.

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com and RonnyK)

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