The realities of the opioid crisis call out to us, again and again. A sea of devastation drowns individual addicts, families, and communities. In response to lawsuits, government investigations and scathing press reports, the typical response from drug manufacturers and their defenders on social media argues: “The drug companies didn’t do anything wrong, they didn’t write the prescriptions, why are you saying this is their fault?” Here’s a short video laying out some (not all) of the key federal laws that some drug manufacturers may have violated in their drive to sell more and more opioids – and thus reasons why some of them could be legally liable for the devastation that overuse and misuse of their products has wrought. Full transcript below:
Congratulations to whistleblower James Glenn (my former client) who helped expose a serious security flaw with Cisco’s video surveillance and management software. Kudos to my old colleagues at Constantine Cannon, Phillips & Cohen and Personius Melber as well. James blows the whistle James is a brilliant, modest, honest and thoughtful guy who discovered the problem with Cisco’s software, reported it to the company, tried to get them to (and help them to) take action and wound up fired (total coincidence, I’m sure…). He was not deterred, though. He reported the problem to the FBI, and then to the Department of Justice using the False Claims Act (see the complaint he filed here).
The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services recently released a report that showed that diagnosis upcoding continues to be a problem in the Medicare Advantage risk adjustment program. According to their findings, Essence Healthcare received at least $158,904 of overpayments from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) program. Unfortunately, Essence Health is not the only guilty party in healthcare who has received such overpayments. A report published by the New York Times in 2017 showed that UnitedHealth allegedly used diagnosis upcoding to over-bill Medicare by billions of dollars. Understanding Diagnosis Upcoding at a Glance Diagnosis upcoding is a phrase used to describe what happens when a medical provider or insurance company reports or documents that a patient was treated for a disease or condition that the patient either does not have or was not treated for. Because insurers and some providers in the Medicare Managed Care program get paid more from the Government for certain types of conditions, there is a higher risk of diagnosis upcoding to try to get more funding. Unfortunately, the way the system is set up it almost encourages healthcare providers to upcode, which is proving to be problematic in causing a seemingly ongoing issue. Why Whistleblowers Should Help Combat Problems with Diagnosis Upcoding Diagnosis upcoding hurts everyone, right down to the patients who are receiving care. For one, upcoding diagnoses leads to what looks to be an appearance of higher rates of certain illnesses and conditions among the general… Read more »
Compounding pharmacies can provide a valuable services when a patient needs a customized formulation of a prescription drug. Unfortunately, because of lax regulations and high reimbursement, some compounding pharmacies can also present the potential for major risks to patient health and significant healthcare fraud, especially for fraudulent prescriptions for topical pain creams and scar creams.