Prosecutors charged over two dozen doctors as well as pharmacists, medical business owners, and other medical professionals Thursday, April 20, in an alleged kickback scheme that may have defrauded some 13,000 California patients.

The defendants are accused of netting about $40 million in overcharging for drugs or prescribed balms with no known medical value.

Details Of Alleged Conspiracy

The plot was led by 37-year-old Tanya Moreland King and 38-year-old Christopher King of Beverly Hills, owners of a trio of medical billing and management firms, revealed Orange County district attorney Tony Rackauckas and state insurance commissioner Dave Jones in a joint statement.

In the said plot that provided $23 million to the couple, the charge involves paying physicians to prescribe unnecessary drugs as well as tests, with the kickbacks masked as “marketing expenses.” The patients’s insurers were believed to be billed with almost $40 million.

“The Kings and their co-conspirators played with patients' lives, buying and selling them for profit without regard to patient safety,” said Jones in the statement, asserting patients’s right to doctors’s decisions based on medical need and not “unadulterated greed.”

Well-Thought-Out Kickback Scheme?

Steven’s Pharmacy in Costa Mesa, owned by Charles Bonner and Mervyn Miller, is also accused of conniving with the Kings to prescribe over $1 million worth of transdermal creams not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and having no known medical benefits.

Investigators disclosed that while the Kings would buy the products for $15 to $40 from the pharmacy, insurance companies will be billed up to $700 for every prescription. In addition, Tanya is thought to pay doctors $50 for every prescription as part of the scheme.

Other doctors in the case are accused of ordering unneeded urine tests in order to confirm that the patients were taking their prescription meds. After the tests were ordered, the Kings would offer $60 to a toxicology group for every screening done, and afterwards bill insurers hundreds of dollars more for each test, the statement said further.

Rackauckas reminded of the need for doctors to follow the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm,” as well as have the law keep its intent to keep physician, patients, and profit all separate.

Associated Press published the names of the 26 medical professionals involved in the case.

In a related health insurance controversy last March, Mayo Clinic reportedly stamped its preference on patients with commercial insurance, triggering a wave of reactions from senior health officials.

Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said her department is very concerned about Mayo CEO Dr. John Noseworthy’s counsel to employees on their new policy — as seen in a leaked video transcript — and is looking how that will be put into action.

Also just recently, the Florida health department warned residents of scammers offering free or cheap medical marijuana and pretending to be the Office of Compassionate Use when collecting credit card details.

This office is the only segment allowed to issue medical marijuana ID cards and it will never solicit credit card information, the agency reminded. Few people in Florida have access to medical cannabis and scammers are cashing in on this limited knowledge of the law.

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