America is enduring more than just one pandemic. Of course, COVID-19 remains an unwelcome burden. Sadly, with March now here, we’re embarking on the first anniversary of its infiltration of our lives. Racial inequality is yet another virus that needs eradicating. And, as we’ve highlighted in our blog on many occasions, the opioid crisis continues to plague our nation.
40 year-old, Mashiyat Rashid of Bloomfield, Michigan has not helped things in that regard. The chief executive officer of the Michigan and Ohio-based Tri-County Wellness Group was just sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in worsening the opioid crisis. As reported by the United States Department of Justice yesterday, Rashid engaged in a scheme that involved prescriptions of over 6.6 million doses of medically unnecessary opioids.
Rashid lived lavishly off of his illegal proceeds.
The DoJ highlights the fact that Rashid’s scheme earned him upwards of $150 million. He used his proceeds to live a very extravagant lifestyle. Included in his expenditures were private jet flights, courtside tickets to the NBA Finals, luxury automobiles, jewelry and real estate. But how exactly did Rashid pull off his health care fraud scheme?
According to court documents, from 2008 to 2016, Rashid’s clinics offered patients, who were suffering from legitimate pain, prescriptions of Oxycodone. They, however, weren’t the only recipients. The clinics also doled out scripts to drug dealers and opioid addicts. These patients were forced to submit to unnecessary back injections in exchange for the prescriptions. Unfortunately, these injections often caused more harm than good.
Patients were heard screaming in pain.
Trial testimony included recollections of the shots hurting more than the pain that was purportedly being treated. Audible screams from patients could be heard throughout the clinics. Some patients even endured adverse effects such open holes in their backs. Many patients, who were addicted to opoids, informed their doctors that they didn’t need or want the injections. They were denied medication until they agreed to get the unnecessary shots.
“The evidence at trial showed that the Tri-County clinics valued making money over patient care,” explains the DoJ report, “The Tri-County clinics intentionally targeted the Medicare program and recruited patients from homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Evidence at trial indicated that Rashid only hired physicians who were willing to disregard patient care in the pursuit of money.”
The doctors were incentivized by Rashid.
He offered to split the Medicare reimbursements for the profitable treatments. The specific injections that were used had nothing to do with the medical needs of the patients. The administered medications were chosen because they were the highest-paying injection procedures. A former Tri-County employee, who testified at the trial of Rashid’s co-defendants, proclaimed that the practices at the clinic were “barbaric.”
In addition Rashid’s prison sentence, he is also ordered to pay over $51 million in restitution to Medicare. He must also forfeit, to the United States, any property traceable to proceeds of the health care fraud scheme. This includes over $11.5 million, commercial real estate, residential real estate and a Detroit Pistons season ticket membership.
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