Are Pill Mills the New Face of Medicare Fraud?

Jeffrey Friedlander, physician at the Neurology & Pain Center in Tampa, was recently convicted of Medicare fraud and drug conspiracy through his participation in a “pill mill.” Friedlander facilitated a drug-trafficking scheme by signing blank prescriptions, used to obtain powerful pain killers that were then sold on the street. Centers such as Friedlander’s are being dubbed the new face of health care fraud.

Clinic employees filed bogus Medicare claims for tests and procedures never performed, and billed Medicare for painkillers with fake patient profiles. The clinics director, Troy Wubbena, recruited high school students to sell the painkillers on the street.  Wubbena used the Tampa location to mastermind the operation, using five other clinics as distribution centers.

Between June and September 2008, clinic employees allegedly prescribed 1,080 oxcodone pills, 240 hydrocodone pills, 960 tablets of Soma and 60 tablets of Xanax to undercover sheriff’s detectives. As a result of a government investigation, Friedlander was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug conspiracy and Medicare fraud and Wubbena sentenced to ten years for related charges. To read a related story on pill mills and criminal Medicare fraud, see here.

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