U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney
A group of Marines based in southern California are embroiled in a health insurance scam that cost the military’s medical provider, TRICARE, more than $67 million. The scheme, reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune on Aug. 18, involved Marines who were allegedly paid $100 to $300 a month to talk to doctors as part of a “telemedicine exam,” according to an affidavit obtained by the Union-Tribune.
The alleged scam involved a network of Marines in southern California who would call into a doctor’s office in Cleveland, Tennessee, to receive prescriptions for compounded medication — expensive drugs tailor-made for patients — that would be then filled by a pharmacy in Bountiful, Utah, that had a license to ship to California. Then TRICARE was billed for the costly medication.
According to the report, the Utah pharmacy was sold to new owners in 2014. After the new owners took over, the number of claims to TRICARE for compound medications shot up dramatically. Just four months into 2015, the number of prescriptions for the expensive drugs ballooned to 4,637, resulting in $67.3 million in reimbursements from TRICARE, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Union-Tribune broke the story after the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a complaint on Aug. 17 in San Diego, as part of an asset forfeiture case against Jimmy and Ashley Collins, who own Choice MD, a medical practice in Cleveland, Tennessee. The majority of the prescriptions were authorized by emergency room doctors who worked for Choice MD.
No arrests have been made in the ongoing San Diego investigation, though these kinds of scams aren’t new. Investigations into similar cases across the country have led to arrests, with a Pompano Beach, Florida pharmacy owner facing charges of attempting to rip off TRICARE for $37 million in a similar scheme involving compound medication.
“While we cannot comment on open investigations, TRICARE is committed to protecting the integrity of the benefits our service members have earned and deserve,” TRICARE officials told Task & Purpose via email. “We have and will continue to work with law enforcement departments and agencies to stop these fraudulent activities.”
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL officer accused of failing to properly report alleged war crimes carried out by one of his men was arraigned on Tuesday in San Diego.
After being informed of his rights, Lt. Jacob Portier did not enter a plea or choose whether he'd ask for a jury or bench trial, since his civilian attorney has raised questions over a protective order in the case.
An AH-64D Longbow Apache helicopter lands during a combined arms demonstration as part of South Carolina National Guard Air & Ground Expo 2009 at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Oct. 10, 2009. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine)
Welcome to Confessions Of, an occaisional series where Task & Purpose's James Clark solicits hilarious, embarrassing, and revealing stories from troops and vets about their job, billet, or a tour overseas. Are you in an interesting assignment and think you might have something to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your story.
"Nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine."
The Pentagon has identified a Green Beret who was killed on Tuesday by enemy small arms fire in southern Afghanistan as Staff Sgt. Joshua Z. Beale.
Beale was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He was killed during combat operations in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.
The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard called the ongoing partial government shutdown "unacceptable" following reports that some Coast Guardsmen are relying on donations from food pantries while their regular paychecks remain on hold.
"We're five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay," Adm. Karl Schultz said in a video message to service members. "You, as members of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden."