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Illinois DEA Investigations Defense AttorneyThe Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – Chicago Division, along with the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois recently announced that two Illinois doctors were indicted on federal criminal charges for allegedly prescribing opioids to patients who did not have a legitimate medical reason for the drugs.

The Indictments

According to the information released by the DEA, one of the physicians charged managed a medical practice in Melrose Park and the second physician was employed there. The indictments allege that between 2015 and 2020, the doctors dispensed fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and other controlled substances to patients who came to the practice but that no physical exams or diagnostic tests were performed on these patients in order to confirm what medical needs the patients had for these drugs.

The doctors are also accused of causing pharmacies to submit many claims to Medicare and Medicaid for prescriptions that were allegedly improperly prescribed.

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Illinois Medical License Defense LawyerOver the last few months, federal and state agencies across the country have issued warnings to health care professionals who hold various licenses to watch out for phone calls and letters from scammers claiming to be from state medical boards, claiming the person’s medical license has been suspended. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are currently investigating these alleged scams. If you have been contacted by someone claiming to be from the Illinois Medical Board threatening that your license is in jeopardy, it is important to contact an Illinois professional license defense attorney right away.

Details of the Scam

According to details released by law enforcement, the scammers will contact a health professional usually by phone. The call appears to be legitimate to the recipient because the scammers have been able to alter the phone number on the person’s caller ID so that it appears that the call is actually coming in from the state’s medical board. 

There are a couple of different methods the scammers are using to commit this fraud. In one of the scams being used, the person is contacted and told their medical license has been stolen and was used to commit criminal acts. The scammer claims these criminal acts are being investigated by the FBI, DEA, and other law enforcement agencies. The person is told their license has been suspended and that in order to have it reinstated, they must pay a bond.

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Illinois Medical License Defense AttorneyThere is no doubt that the country is deeply divided over just how serious COVID-19 is and what steps should be taken to mitigate the spread of the virus. There is intense debate over vaccines, masks, and social distancing, with much of that debate raging over social media platforms. Unfortunately, there has been an avalanche of misinformation and disinformation posted on these platforms about the virus. Some of this information comes directly from physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals. All of this misinformation has prompted the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) to announce that any healthcare professional who spreads COVID-19 misinformation is at risk of losing their medical license.

The Federation of State Medical Boards

The FSMB is a nonprofit organization that represents 71 state medical and osteopathic boards in the United States. The organization provides education, data, assessment, and research to medical boards, while also focusing on initiatives and services that promote regulatory best practices, quality health care, and patient safety. The FSMB also co-sponsors the United States Medical Licensing Examination.

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Illinois Medical License Defense AttorneyThe shutdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in multiple federal programs to help businesses and individuals survive financially. Some of these resources included the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, Paycheck Protection Program, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Over the last several months, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced indictments of multiple cases of fraud against parties who allegedly benefitted from these programs illegally. Recently, the DOJ announced another area of pandemic fraud they will be targeting – healthcare fraud.

Multiple Indictments

The DOJ issued their warning to all healthcare providers across the country that submitting claims for COVID-19-related testing and healthcare services that are false could result in criminal charges. Over the past couple of months, the DOJ has filed criminal charges against more than a dozen people in multiple states for submitting false claims. The total amount of these alleged false claims totals more than $143 million. Some of the alleged criminal acts charged in these indictments include fake testing, money laundering, and wire fraud.

In one case, a medical doctor was one of the people charged in an alleged scheme involving COVID-19 testing for Medicare recipients. The doctor is alleged to have taken the personal information of individuals receiving COVID tests, along with blood or saliva samples, and submitted them to Medicare for unrelated, unnecessary, and expensive laboratory testing. Some of the conditions allegedly submitted falsely for testing included cancer, allergy testing, respiratory pathogen panel tests, and genetic testing.

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Illinois Medical Marijuana Certification AttorneyIn 2013, the state of Illinois passed the Compassionate Use Act, which allowed the use of medical marijuana for patients suffering from certain medical conditions who received certification from their physician. In 2019, the state amended the law to also include certification by advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) and other healthcare professionals other than physicians. The law has specific guidelines that healthcare professionals must abide by when issuing medical marijuana recommendations to patients and failure to follow these rules could result in disciplinary action by the Illinois Medical Board and/or other consequences.

Certifying Patients

Healthcare professionals who certify patients for medical marijuana use already walk a fine line with federal marijuana laws. It is illegal for a doctor or any other medical professional to prescribe cannabis in any form to a patient under federal law because of its classification as a Schedule 1 drug and, under the current federal law, prescribing marijuana for a patient could be deemed aiding and abetting the patient in obtaining the drug.

This is why healthcare professionals make recommendations to patients and not prescribe the drug. And while the legal risk of certifying patients is fairly low (In 2013, the DOJ stated that their attorneys would no longer pursue legal action against healthcare professionals for medical marijuana certifications), it is still important for healthcare professionals who do certify to be aware that federal laws have not caught up to state laws.

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