Attorney General Sessions and HHS Secretary Price Announce National Health Care Fraud Takedown
- Articles, Blog

Attorney General Sessions and HHS Secretary Price Announce National Health Care Fraud Takedown


GOOD MORNING. THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE. THIS IS THE 8TH YEAR OF THE HEALTH CARE FRAUD
TAKEDOWN. THIS EVENT HIGHLIGHTS THE ENORMITY OF THE
HEALTH CARE FRAUD PROBLEMS WE FACE. THIS PROBLEM IS COMPOUNDED BY THE FACT THAT
OUR COUNTRY IS IN THE MIDST OF THE DEADLIEST DRUG CRISIS IN OUR NATION’S HISTORY, CAUSING
MORE DEATHS THAN WE HAVE EVER SEEN IN OUR NATION. INDEED AN EXTRAORDINARY NUMBER OF THE CASES
THAT WE WILL BE HIGHLIGHTING TODAY THAT ARE IN OUR REPORT ARE INVOLVED WITH OPIOID PRESCRIPTION
ABUSE. MORE AMERICANS DIE OF A DRUG OVERDOSE EVERY
11 MINUTES AND MORE THAN 2 MILLION AMERICANS ARE ENSNARED IN ADDICTION TO PRESCRIPTION
PAINKILLERS. EVERY DAY AS A RESULT OF DRUG ABUSE, AMERICAN
FAMILIES ARE BEING BANKRUPTED, BROKEN APART, FRIENDSHIPS ENDED, AND PROMISING LIVES AND
CAREERS CUT SHORT. DRUG ADDICTION IS CAUSING MORE AND MORE CRIME
AND VIOLENCE IN OUR COMMUNITIES ACROSS THIS NATION. TOO MANY TRUSTED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS LIKE
DOCTORS AND NURSES AND PHARMACISTS HAVE CHOSEN TO VIOLATE THEIR OATHS AND PUT GREED AHEAD
OF THEIR PATIENTS. AMAZINGLY, SOME HAVE MADE THE PRACTICES INTO
MULTIMILLION DOLLAR CRIMINAL ENTERPRISES. THEY SEEM OBLIVIOUS TO THE DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES
OF THEIR GREED. THEIR ACTIONS NOT ONLY ENRICH THEMSELVES OFTEN
AT THE EXPENSE OF THE TAXPAYER, BUT ALSO FEED ADDICTIONS AND CAUSED ADDICTIONS TO BEGIN. THE CONSEQUENCES ARE REAL. THE EMERGENCY ROOMS, JAIL CELLS, FUTURES LOST,
AND GRAVEYARDS ARE THE RESULTS. AND SO TODAY, THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE IN
CONJUNCTION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES IS ANNOUNCING THE LARGEST
HEALTH CARE FRAUD TAKEDOWN OPERATION IN AMERICAN HISTORY. THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COORDINATED EFFORTS
BETWEEN OUR CRIMINAL DIVISIONS, U.S. ATTORNEYS’ OFFICES, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND MORE
THAN 1000 STATE, LOCAL, AND FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS TO CHARGE 412 DEFENDANTS, INCLUDING
56 DOCTORS. THESE DEFENDANTS HAVE DEFRAUDED TAXPAYERS
OF APPROXIMATELY $1.3 BILLION. AS A RESULT OF THIS OPERATION, 205 HEALTH
CARE PROVIDERS ARE NOW IN THE PROCESS OF BEING SUSPENDED OR BANNED FROM PARTICIPATION IN
ANY FEDERAL HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS. AMONG THOSE DEFENDANTS ANNOUNCED TODAY, 120
HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH OPIOID RELATED CRIMES, MAKING THIS ALSO THE LARGEST OPIOID RELATED
FRAUD TAKEDOWN IN AMERICAN HISTORY. ONE GROUP OF DEFENDANTS INCLUDING SIX DOCTORS
ARE ALLEGED TO HAVE OPERATED A SCHEME IN MICHIGAN TO PRESCRIBE PATIENTS WITH UNNECESSARY OPIOIDS,
SOME OF WHICH ENDED UP FOR SALE ON THE STREETS. THESE DEFENDANTS ALLEGEDLY BILLED MEDICARE
FOR $164 MILLION IN FALSE AND FRAUDULENT CLAIMS. ONE FAKE REHAB FACILITY FOR DRUG ADDICTS IN
PALM BEACH IS ALLEGED TO HAVE RECRUITED ADDICTS WITH GIFT CARDS, VISITS TO STRIP CLUBS, AND
EVEN DRUGS ENABLING THE COMPANY TO BILL FOR MORE THAN $58 MILLION IN FALSE TREATMENTS
AND FALSE TESTS. ANOTHER ILLEGAL CLINIC IN HOUSTON ALLEGEDLY
GAVE OUT PRESCRIPTIONS FOR CASH. JUST ONE DOCTOR — ONE DOCTOR– AT THIS CLINIC
ALLEGEDLY GAVE OUT 12,000 OPIOID PRESCRIPTION FOR OVER 2 MILLION ILLEGAL PAINKILLER DOSES. THESE DEFENDANTS HAVE BEEN CHARGED, AND THEY
WILL FACE JUSTICE. WHILE TODAY IS A HISTORIC DAY, THE DEPARTMENT’S
WORK IS CERTAINLY NOT FINISHED. IN FACT, IT IS JUST BEGINNING. WE WILL CONTINUE TO FIND ARREST, PROSECUTE,
CONVICT, AND INCARCERATE FRAUDSTERS, DRUG DEALERS WHEREVER THEY ARE. WE WILL USE EVERY TOOL WE HAVE TO STOP CRIMINALS
FROM EXPLOITING VULNERABLE PEOPLE AND STEALING OUR HARD-EARNED TAX DOLLARS. WE ARE CONTINUING TO WORK HARD TO DEVELOP
EVEN MORE TECHNIQUES, TO IDENTIFY AND PROSECUTE WRONGDOERS. WE ARE SENDING A CLEAR MESSAGE TO CRIMINALS
ACROSS THIS COUNTRY. WE WILL FIND YOU. WE WILL BRING YOU TO JUSTICE. AND YOU WILL PAY A VERY HIGH PRICE FOR WHAT
YOU HAVE DONE. SO I WANT TO THANK MY GREAT FRIEND AND SUPERB
SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, TOM PRICE, FOR HIS LEADERSHIP AND PARTNERSHIP
AND FOR SHARING HIS EXPERTISE AS A RENOWNED PHYSICIAN AND LEADING HIS TEAM MEMBERS IN
THIS EFFORT. I WANT TO ALSO THANK THE DEDICATED HHS PERSONNEL
FOR THEIR VALUABLE ASSISTANCE. I WANT TO THANK ALL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. YOU WILL HEAR FROM THEM TODAY. FOR THE ATTORNEYS, AND STAFF, AND AGENTS WHO
HAVE WORKED TOGETHER TO MAKE THIS SUCCESSFUL ANNOUNCEMENT. THEY HAVE MADE THE ENTIRE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
PROUD. ABOVE ALL, I THINK WE OWE A MAJOR DEBT OF
GRATITUDE TO THE OVER 1000 LAW OFFICERS INVOLVED IN THESE CASES. I WANT TO THANK THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES FOR
THE SERVICE AND COMMITMENT THEY HAVE GIVEN TO THEIR COUNTRY. THANK YOU. AND NOW, I WILL TURN THE PROGRAM
OVER TO SECRETARY PRICE. TOM. SECRETARY PRICE: THANK YOU SO MUCH MR. ATTORNEY GENERAL. GOOD MORNING TO YOU. I APPRECIATE YOU FOR HOSTING THIS EVENT, AND
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR BEING HERE. I WOULD LIKE TO BEGIN BY RECOGNIZING THOSE
FOLKS WHO ARE NOT ABLE TO BE HERE TODAY, BUT WITHOUT WHOM THIS EVENT WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE. AS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL MENTIONED, TO THE
THOUSANDS OF MEN AND WOMEN SERVING IN STATE AND FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ON THE
FRONT LINES OF BATTLING HEALTH CARE FRAUD IN AMERICA, THANK YOU FOR YOUR HARD WORK AND
YOUR HEROISM THAT HAVE BROUGHT SO MANY CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE. HEALTH CARE FRAUD IS A CRIME THAT DESERVES
SPECIAL CONDEMNATION, AND REQUIRES SPECIAL COOPERATION TO COMBAT. NOT ONLY DOES IT INVOLVE STEALING BILLIONS
OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS FROM AMERICA’S SENIORS AND THE MEDICALLY NEEDY, BUT IT ALSO UNDERMINES
THE AMERICAN PEOPLE’S TRUST IN THEIR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM AND OUR NATION’S MOST IMPORTANT PUBLIC
INSTITUTIONS. AS A PHYSICIAN AND AS SECRETARY OF HEALTH
AND HUMAN SERVICES I CAN TELL YOU THAT THIS DISTRUST IS OFTENTIMES MISPLACED. AMERICA HAS THE BEST DOCTORS AND HEALTH CARE
PROVIDERS IN THE WORLD. BUT THEIR ABILITY TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE, HIGH-QUALITY
CARE TO THEIR PATIENTS IS JEOPARDIZED EVERY SINGLE TIME A CRIMINAL COMMITS HEALTH CARE
FRAUD. SO IT IS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT THE INDIVIDUALS
TARGETED WITHIN OUR TAKEDOWN OPERATIONS ARE IN THE BUSINESS NOT OF CARING FOR PATIENTS,
BUT OF MANIPULATING THEM AND EXPLOITING THEM. NOW WITH A NAME LIKE THE NATIONAL HEALTHCARE
TAKEDOWN FRAUD TAKEDOWN, YOU MIGHT THINK THIS OPERATION ARRESTS MOSTLY PHYSICIANS. IN SOME CASES, THEY DO, BUT THAT IS NOT THE
CASE FOR THE MAJORITY. IN FACT, IT IS NOT EVEN CLOSE. THIS YEAR’S TAKEDOWN INVOLVED OVER 412 CHARGED
DEFENDANTS, BUT THE VAST MAJORITY OF THEM ARE NOT PHYSICIANS OR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS. AND EVEN THOSE DEFENDANTS WHO DO HAVE A MEDICAL
LICENSE IN PRACTICE, THEY ARE NOT TRUE MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS. THEY ARE PROFESSIONAL CRIMINALS. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE OF THE CRIMINALS WHO
PREY ON SOME OF THE MOST VULNERABLE IN OUR SOCIETY, THE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE STRUGGLING
WITH DRUG ADDICTION. FOR MOST AMERICANS, THE OPIOID CRISIS TEARING
APART FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES ALL ACROSS OUR LAND IS A CAUSE OF GREAT SADNESS AND OF
SYMPATHY. BUT A FEW INDIVIDUALS LOOK AT THIS NATIONAL
SCOURGE, AND THEY SEE AN OPPORTUNITY TO PROFIT FROM THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS’S SUFFERING AND
PAIN. AND THAT IS WHY THIS YEAR’S NATIONAL TAKEDOWN
OPERATION AGGRESSIVELY TARGETED INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE MALICIOUSLY CONTRIBUTED TO AMERICA’S
OPIOID EPIDEMIC WHILE ALSO ENGAGING IN HEALTH CARE FRAUD. THANKS TO THESE EFFORTS, FEWER CRIMINALS WILL
BE ABLE TO EXPLOIT OUR NATION’S OPIATE CRISIS FOR THE OWN GAIN, AND MORE PEOPLE STRUGGLING
WITH ADDICTION WILL BE ABLE TO GET THE HELP AND THE TREATMENT THAT THEY NEED. AND THIS REALLY EPITOMIZES WHAT THE NATIONAL
TAKEDOWN OPERATION IS ALL ABOUT. MORE THAN 50 YEARS AGO, AMERICA’S TRADITION
OF HELPING OUR NEIGHBORS IN NEED INSPIRED A GENERATION TO CREATE MEDICARE AND MEDICAID. PROGRAMS THAT PROVIDE CRITICAL HEALTHCARE
SERVICES TO AMERICA’S SENIORS AND THOSE MOST VULNERABLE. NOW, IT IS OUR GENERATION’S CHALLENGE TO KEEP
THE PROMISES OF THESE PROGRAMS AND TO PROTECT THEM FOR OUR CHILDREN AND FOR OUR GRANDCHILDREN. AND THIS REQUIRES RELENTLESSLY PURSUING ANYONE
INVOLVED IN DEFRAUDING OUR NATION’S HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS. SOMEONE WHO INSTINCTIVELY UNDERSTANDS THE
IMPORTANCE OF SAVING AND STRENGTHENING MEDICARE AND MEDICAID FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS IS PRESIDENT
DONALD TRUMP. WE SAW THIS IN HIS FIRST BUDGET REQUEST, WHICH
CALLED FOR A NEW $70 MILLION INVESTMENT IN THE HEALTH CARE FRAUD AND ABUSE CONTROL PROGRAM
THROUGH HHS AND WE SAW IT IN HIS CHOICE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK
COLLABORATIVELY WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL IN THIS AREA AND
LOOK FORWARD TO MUCH MORE SUCCESS. IT IS NOW MY PRIVILEGE TO TURN THE PODIUM
OVER TO THE INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR THE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT, DAN LEVINSON. INSPECTOR GENERAL DANIEL INSPECTOR GENERAL LEVINSON: THANK YOU, MR. SECRETARY, AND THANK YOU MR. ATTORNEY GENERAL AND GOOD MORNING. AS YOU HAVE HEARD TODAY, TODAY’S ACTION MARKS
THE NATION’S LARGEST CRIMINAL HEALTH CARE FRAUD TAKE DOWN IN HISTORY. THIS HAS BEEN A MASSIVE OPERATION REQUIRING
THE EXPERTISE AND COORDINATION OF MORE THAN 1000 FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL LAW-ENFORCEMENT
PERSONNEL, INCLUDING NEARLY 350 AGENTS FROM OUR OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL. I WOULD LIKE TO THANK OUR OIG AGENTS WHO HAVE
WORKED SO HARD OVER MANY MONTHS TO ACHIEVE THIS REMARKABLE AND UNPRECEDENTED MULTI-AGENCY
ENFORCEMENT OPERATION. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK OUR FEDERAL AND
STATE PARTNERS WHO SHARE OUR COMMITMENT TO FIGHT FRAUD IN MEDICARE AND MEDICAID. IN PARTICULAR I AM DEEPLY GRATEFUL TO THE
30 STATE MEDICAID FRAUD CONTROL UNITS WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE TAKEDOWN, COORDINATING
OUR PREVENTION, DETECTION, AND ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS WITH OUR PARTNERS IS CRUCIAL TO OUR
SUCCESS IN COMBATING HEALTH CARE FRAUD. AND I DO WANT TO UNDERSCORE THE IMPORTANCE
OF THE HEALTH CARE FRAUD CONTROL UNITS AT THE STATE LEVEL BECAUSE, IN MANY CASES, THESE
INVESTIGATORS WHO HAVE WORKED MANY YEARS IN FIELDS REQUIRING GREAT EXPERTISE AND EXPERIENCE
ARE REALLY UNSUNG HEROES AND IT IS A RATHER COMPLICATED ACRONYM, MEDICAID FRAUD CONTROL
UNITS, TO THINK ABOUT IN AN ACRONYM HEAVY CITY, BUT WE GREATLY APPRECIATE IT. I KNOW I SPEAK FOR ALL OF OUR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATORS
WHO WORKED SO HARD TO BRING THESE LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS TO AN EFFECTIVE CLOSE. I KNOW I SPEAK FOR OUR WHOLE TEAM WHEN I EXPRESS
MY DEEP APPRECIATION TO NEARLY EVERY STATE’S MEDICAID FRAUD CONTROL UNIT. 49 OF THE 50 STATES HAVE ONE. THEY PLAY A CRITICAL PART IN ENSURING THE
INTEGRITY OF BOTH FEDERAL AND STATE FUNDS PERMITTED THROUGH STATE MEDICAID PROGRAMS. TOGETHER, WE HAVE APPREHENDED INDIVIDUALS
WHO ARE SUSPECTED OF DEFRAUDING VITAL HEALTHCARE PROGRAMS OUT OF MORE THAN $1 BILLION. THIS IS REPREHENSIBLE. THIS HEALTHCARE FRAUD NOT ONLY REPRESENTS
A THEFT FROM TAXPAYERS WHO FUND THESE VITAL PROGRAMS AND AFFECTS THE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS
WHO RELY ON QUALITY CARE IN MEDICARE AND MEDICAID. IN THE WORST FRAUD CASES, GREED OVERPOWERS
CARE, PUTTING PATIENTS’S HEALTH AT RISK. OIG SEES THIS ALL TOO OFTEN IN FRAUD CASES
INVOLVING ILLEGAL PRESCRIBING AND DISPENSING OF OPIOIDS. THIS TAKEDOWN INCLUDED 120 INDIVIDUALS CHARGED
WITH FRAUD RELATED TO OPIOIDS. IN ADDITION TO THE CHARGES ANNOUNCED TODAY,
OIG IS ISSUING EXCLUSION NOTICES TO NEARLY 300 PHYSICIANS, NURSES, AND OTHER PROVIDERS
BASED ON CONDUCT RELATED TO OPIOID DIVERSION AND ABUSE. THESE INDIVIDUALS WILL BE PREVENTED FROM BILLING
ALL FEDERALLY FUNDED HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS. LATER THIS MORNING, OUR OFFICE WILL POST A
REPORT REGARDING THE QUESTIONABLE PRESCRIBING OF OPIOIDS OF IN MEDICARE’S PRESCRIPTION DRUG
PROGRAM. OF NOTE IS THAT MEDICARE SPENT OVER $4 BILLION
IN OPIOIDS IN 2016. ONE IN EVERY THREE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES
RECEIVED A PRESCRIPTION OPIOID. OVER HALF A MILLION BENEFICIARIES RECEIVED
WHAT IS CONSIDERED HIGH AMOUNTS OF OPIOIDS. MORE THAN 400 PRESCRIBERS HAD QUESTIONABLE
OPIOID PRESCRIBING PATTERNS FOR BENEFICIARIES AT SERIOUS RISK. OUR OIG WILL CONTINUE TO PLAY A VITAL LEADERSHIP
ROLE IN THE MEDICARE FRAUD STRIKE FORCE TO TRACK DOWN THOSE WHO ABUSE IMPORTANT FEDERAL
HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS. WE ARE COMMITTED TO HOLDING ACCOUNTABLE THOSE
WHO THREATEN THE INTEGRITY OF ALL HHS PROGRAMS AND THE HEALTH OF EVERY AMERICAN WHO RELIES
ON THESE PROGRAMS. THANK YOU. I WOULD NOW LIKE TO TURN OUR PRESS CONFERENCE
OVER TO FBI ACTING DIRECTOR ANDREW MCCABE. FBI ACTING DIRECTOR MCCABE: GOOD MORNING. I WANT TO JOIN THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND SECRETARY
PRICE IN THANKING THOSE FOLKS WHO DO THE HARD WORK THAT MAKE THESE CASES POSSIBLE, ESPECIALLY
MY FBI AGENTS AND ANALYSTS IN THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION AND THE HEALTH CARE
FRAUD UNIT AND IN THE 29 FBI FIELD OFFICES WHO PARTICIPATED ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND THE
ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THIS MORNING. AND OF COURSE, I HAVE TO THANK OUR PARTNERS
IN THE FEDERAL AGENCIES AND AT THE STATE AND LOCAL LEVEL, AND PARTICULARLY ON THE MEDICARE
FRAUD STRIKE FORCE TEAMS. WITHOUT THEIR ASSISTANCE, WE WOULD NOT BE
HERE TODAY. SO THESE FOLKS ARE THE ONES ON THE FRONTLINES
IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HEALTH CARE FRAUD. THIS TAKEDOWN IS AN INCREDIBLY EXAMPLE OF
THE SUCCESS OF THAT PARTNERSHIP. IT’S OBVIOUS TO ANYONE WHO PICKS UP A NEWSPAPER
OR TURNS ON THE NEWS THAT THE NATION IS IN THE MIDST OF A CRISIS. OPIOID ABUSE DESTROYS LIVES AND IT DEVASTATES
FAMILIES. IT HAS BECOME SO PREVALENT THAT THE NUMBER
OF OPIOID RELATED DEATHS INCREASES EACH YEAR. THESE OVERDOSES ARE NOT JUST HAPPENING IN
SOME PLACES. THEY ARE HAPPENING EVERY PLACE. THEY ARE HAPPENING IN TOWNS AND COMMUNITIES
ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY. MEN AND WOMEN OF ALL AGES, OF ALL RACES, AND
ALL BACKGROUNDS FALL VICTIM TO IT. NARCOTICS OFFICERS HAVE ARRESTED SCHOOLTEACHERS,
DOCTORS, NURSES, AND FELLOW LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL. MANY WHO SUCCUMB TO THE LURE OF THE OPIOID
HIGH OUR ARE KIDS, KIDS WHO TOOK ONE WRONG TURN AND BECAME HOOKED. THIS WEEK, WE ARRESTED ONCE TRUSTED DOCTORS,
PHARMACISTS, AND OTHER MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS WHO WERE CORRUPTED BY GREED. THESE PEOPLE INFLICTED A SPECIAL KIND OF DAMAGE. THEY NOT ONLY DEFRAUDED MEDICARE, MEDICAID,
AND TRI-CARE AND MANY MILLIONS OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS, THEY PREYED ON THE VULNERABLE, DISTRIBUTING
POWERFUL OPIOIDS TO PEOPLE THEY KNEW WERE HOOKED ON THEM. IN SOME CASES, WE HAD ADDICTS PACKED INTO
STANDING ROOM ONLY WAITING ROOMS, WAITING FOR THOSE PRESCRIPTIONS. WE HAVE DOCTORS WHO WROTE UNNECESSARY NARCOTICS
PRESCRIPTIONS TO ADDICTS AND DRUG DEALERS IN RETURN FOR $250, $300 CASH PAYMENTS FOR
EACH VISIT. SOME DOCTORS WROTE OUT MORE PRESCRIPTIONS
FOR CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES IN ONE MONTH THAN ENTIRE HOSPITALS WERE WRITING. TO OPIOID ADDICTS, THESE PRESCRIPTIONS ESCALATE
THEIR DEPENDENCE ON DRUGS. THEY ARE A DEATH SENTENCE PLAIN AND SIMPLE. THE FBI’S ROLE IN FIGHTING HEALTH CARE FRAUD
CONTINUES TO BE A PRIORITY FOR US. FBI SPECIAL AGENTS AND ANALYSTS WORK THESE
CASES IN ALL 56 OF OUR FIELD OFFICES, AND AS I SAID EARLIER, 29 OF OUR FBI FIELD OFFICES
TOOK PART IN THIS WEEK’S NATIONAL HEALTHCARE TAKEDOWN. AND THAT INCLUDES THE EFFORTS OF ABOUT 370
FBI PERSONNEL WHO WORKED ON THAT TEAM OF OVER 1000 LAW-ENFORCEMENT FOLKS THAT YOU’VE HEARD
REFERRED TO THIS MORNING. WE KNOW THAT WE NEED TO BE PROACTIVE IN STOPPING
OPIOID ABUSE. AND THAT IS WHY OUR HEALTH CARE FRAUD UNIT
HAS STARTED THE PRESCRIPTION DRUG INITIATIVE. THE OBJECTIVE OF THE PDI IS TO PURSUE MEDICAL
PROFESSIONALS WHO OVERPRESCRIBE OPIOIDS AS WELL AS THOSE WHO SEEK TO PROFIT FROM THE
DIVERSION OF PRESCRIPTION NARCOTICS. WE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT KNOW THAT WE CANNOT
TACKLE THIS PROBLEM ALONE. WE HAVE GOT TO WORK WITH OUR PUBLIC HEALTH
TREATMENT PROFESSIONALS AND EDUCATORS TO INCREASE PUBLIC AWARENESS ABOUT THE PERILS OF OPIOID
ADDICTION. THIS YEAR’S NATIONAL HEALTHCARE FRAUD TAKEDOWN
REMOVES DOZENS OF CORRUPT MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS FROM SERVING THE PUBLIC. WE HOPE THAT THESE ARRESTS WILL DETER OTHER
DOCTORS AND NURSES AND PHARMACISTS FROM THE LURE OF EASY MONEY AT THE EXPENSE OF THE MOST
VULNERABLE. AS WE ALL KNOW, WHEN PROVIDERS STEAL FROM
GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS, THEY DECREASE THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO THOSE PROGRAMS
AND TO THE TAXPAYERS THEY WERE MEANT TO SERVE AND THAT HURTS US ALL. NOW, I WOULD LIKE TO TURN THINGS OVER TO ACTING
DEA ADMINISTRATOR CHUCK ROSENBERG. MR. DEA ACTING ADMINISTRATOR ROSENBERG: GOOD MORNING,
EVERYONE. THANKS FOR COMING. MY GENUINE THANKS TO THOSE WHO INVESTIGATE
AND PROSECUTE THESE CASES: THE AGENTS, THE TASK FORCE OFFICERS, DIVERSION INVESTIGATORS,
ANALYSTS AT THE DEA, AND OUR PARTNERS HERE AND AROUND THE COUNTRY, PROSECUTORS AND AGENTS
WHO ARE DOING REALLY HARD WORK MAKING ALL OF THIS POSSIBLE. COORDINATION AND COOPERATION ARE THE HALLMARK
OF EFFECTIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT. SO I APPRECIATE THE JOINT EFFORTS HERE. DEA IS BOTH A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY AS I
THINK YOU KNOW AND ALSO A REGULATORY AGENCY AS YOU MAY NOT KNOW. SOME FOLKS DON’T KNOW THAT WE REGULATE 1.7
MILLION INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES, ALL OF WHOM ARE REGISTERED WITH THE DEA. THESE REGISTRANTS REPRESENT THE ENTIRE DRUG
SUPPLY CHAIN, SO MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS, DOCTORS, PHARMACIES, PHARMACISTS, AMONG OTHERS. NOW THE VAST MAJORITY OF THESE PROFESSIONALS
ARE GOOD FOLKS. IN FACT, THE VAST MAJORITIES OF THESE PROFESSIONALS
ARE ALLIES. THEY HELP US. HOWEVER, THE FEW WHO DON’T AND WHO AREN’T,
HAVE AN OUTSIZED IMPACT ON PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY. PRESCRIPTION AND OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUGS ARE
AMONG THE MOST COMMONLY ABUSED SUBSTANCES BY ANY AMERICANS AGED 14 AND OVER. AND AMONG PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS, HYDROCODONE:
NUMBER ONE, AND OXYCODONE: NUMBER TWO, BOTH OF WHICH ARE VERY POWERFUL OPIOIDS, LEAD THE
WAY. USED AND MONITORED PROPERLY, THESE DRUGS CAN
BRING GREAT RELIEF TO PEOPLE WITH SEVERE PAIN. USED IMPROPERLY, THEY ARE EXTRAORDINARILY
DANGEROUS. WE ALSO KNOW THAT THERE IS A CAUSATIVE AND
CORRELATIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ADDITION TO PERCEPTION PILLS AND ADDICTION TO HEROINE. THERE’S TWO REALLY DAUNTING NUMBERS. FOUR OUT OF FIVE NEW HEROIN USERS START ON
PRESCRIPTION PILLS. AND IN THE UNITED STATES, WE HAVE 600 NEW
HEROIN USERS EACH DAY, WHICH IS REMARKABLE. SO WE NEED TO CHANGE THE CULTURE IN THE UNITED
STATES. WE HAVE TO DRAMATICALLY REDUCE THE DEMAND
FOR PRESCRIPTION PILLS AND THE OTHER DANGEROUS DRUGS SUCH AS HEROIN TO WHICH THEY LEAD. CHANGING THE CULTURE IS HARD. IT CAN BE DONE. BECAUSE IF WE DO IT, IF WE CHANGE THE CULTURE,
WE’RE GOING TO SAVE LIVES. BUT WE ALSO NEED TO PROSECUTE THOSE THAT DISREGARD
THE LAW. THEIR RECKLESSNESS AND THEIR GREED PUTS AMERICANS
AT SIGNIFICANT RISK OF ADDICTION AND DEATH. NOW LAST YEAR, HERE’S ANOTHER REMARKABLE
NUMBER: AN ESTIMATED 59,000 PEOPLE DIED FROM A DRUG OVERDOSE. NOW SOMETIMES BIG NUMBERS WASH OVER US SO
I WANT TO GIVE YOU ANOTHER WAY TO THINK ABOUT THAT BIG NUMBER. IF YOU RECALL ABOUT A YEAR AGO, AND I’M
SURE YOU DO, 49 INNOCENT PEOPLE WERE MURDERED AT THE PULSE NIGHTCLUB BY A MADMAN. NOW IMAGINE THAT HAPPENING THREE TIMES A DAY. ONCE IN THE MORNING, ONCE IN THE AFTERNOON,
AND ONCE IN THE EVENING. THEN IMAGINE THAT HAPPENING 365 DAYS IN A
ROW. AND EVEN THAT NUMBER, AND I HAVE DONE THE MATH FOR YOU SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO, DOES
NOT COME OUT TO 59,000 PEOPLE A YEAR. NOW OF COURSE, THAT IS FOR ALL DRUGS, BUT
OPIOIDS PLAY AN ENORMOUS ROLE IN THAT TOTAL NUMBER. FATAL OVERDOSES LINKED TO THE MISUSE OF PRESCRIPTION
DRUGS AND OTHER DRUGS TO WHICH THEY INEVITABLY LEAD IS REALLY TRULY AN EPIDEMIC. I KNOW WE OVERUSE CERTAIN WORDS IN OUR LEXICON
LIKE UNPRECEDENTED AND HISTORIC AND UNIQUE. THIS IS AN EPIDEMIC. WITH GREAT PRIVILEGE AND WITH GREAT AUTHORITY
COMES WITH GREAT RESPONSIBILITY TO HANDLE AND PRESCRIBE CONTROLLED DRUGS LAWFULLY, CAREFULLY,
AND THOUGHTFULLY. WHERE AND WHEN PRACTITIONERS FAIL AND FALL
IN THAT RESPONSIBILITY, WE ARE GOING TO HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE. THANKS FOR YOUR TIME. LET ME TURN IT BACK OVER TO GENERAL SESSIONS. ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS: OK, WE WILL HAVE
SOME QUESTIONS.>>CAN YOU TELL US, EXPLAIN HOW THIS LARGEST
EVER HEALTH CARE FRAUD CASE BEGAN IN PLACES LIKE MICHIGAN AND FLORIDA? HOW DID YOUR INVESTIGATORS FIND OUT ABOUT
IT? HOW DO THEY INVESTIGATE IT? WITH TIPS? CAN YOU GIVE US SOME SENSE OF THAT? MR. ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS: YES. FIRST I WOULD AND MAYBE SOME OF OUR EXPERTS
WHO ACTUALLY STARTED THOSE INVESTIGATIONS CAN TELL YOU, BUT INSPECTOR GENERALS OF HHS
WORK ON THOSE CASES. WE GET TIPS FROM PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY. WE ARE NOW RUNNING VERY SOPHISTICATED COMPUTER
PROGRAMS THAT IDENTIFIED OUTLIERS, REALLY BAD OUTLIERS. THEY JUMP RIGHT OUT AT YOU. LIKE, HOW CAN THIS POSSIBLY — HOW CAN A PHYSICIAN
OR PHARMACY MOVE THESE MANY PILLS? AND SO, THAT IS THE KIND OF THING THAT LEADS
US TO THESE INVESTIGATIONS. THEN YOU’VE GOT 94 U.S. ATTORNEYS’ OFFICES,
YOU’VE GOT 56 FBI RESIDENT AGENCIES, DEA IS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, SO WORKING WITH THE
TEAM AT HHS AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES, THESE CASES ARE MOVING FORWARD. WE THINK, AND ACTUALLY ARE COMMITTED TO, GETTING
EVEN BETTER AT THIS. WE BELIEVE THERE ARE A LOT MORE CASES THAT
NEED TO BE BROUGHT. WE WANT TO SEND A MESSAGE TO THOSE WHO ARE
VIOLATING THE LAW THAT WE ARE COMING AFTER YOU. WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE, AS CHUCK ROSENBERG AT
DEA, INDICATED, A REDUCTION IN THE PRESCRIPTION OF OPIOIDS BY OUR MEDICAL COMMUNITY. I BELIEVE THOSE NUMBERS ARE WAY TOO HIGH. THE UNITED STATES IS BY FAR THE HIGHEST PRESCRIBING
OPIOID NATION IN THE WORLD. NO NATION IS CLOSE TO IT. I THINK THAT IS A CAUSE OF ADDICTION. DEA HAS INDICATED AND DATA SHOWS THAT 80%
OF HEROIN ADDICTS, THEY BELIEVE STARTED WITH OPIOID PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.SO IT IS A BIG ISSUE
FOR US.>>THANK YOU MR. ATTORNEY GENERAL. TWO QUESTIONS, ONE ON-TOPIC, ONE OFF-TOPIC. A LOT OF OPIOID ADDICTION ADVOCATES SAY THEY
ARE DISAPPOINTED WITH THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SO FAR. A LOT OF PEOPLE VOTED FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP
BECAUSE HE PROMISED TO REDUCE THE EPIDEMIC AND UP TREATMENT, BUT SO FAR THEY TELL ME
WHAT THEY HAVE SEEN ARE PROPOSED CUTS TO TREATMENT, A COMMISSION HEADED BY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE,
WHICH MANY PEOPLE SAY IS UNNECESSARY AND WILL TAKE TOO LONG, AND THEN LASTLY MANY PEOPLE
TAKE ISSUE WITH YOU AND YOUR HARDLINE STANCE WITH SENTENCING AND WORRY THAT TOO MANY PEOPLE
WILL WIND UP IN PRISON AND NOT TREATMENT. CAN YOU ARTICULATE, I THINK YOU STARTED WITH
THE OTHER QUESTION. WHAT IS THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S STRATEGY
IN COMBATING THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC? ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS: WE HAVE GOT TO
WORK TOGETHER, AND MAYBE SOME OF THESE OTHERS WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE, TO CONFRONT THIS
RISING DRUG USE. CRIME IS RISING WITH IT. WE HAVE SEEN OPIOID AND OTHER DRUG DEATHS
AT THE RATE WE HAVE NEVER EVER SEEN BEFORE. THERE ARE THREE WAYS TO DEAL WITH THE DRUG
RISING EPIDEMIC. ONE IS PREVENTION, WHICH I BELIEVE WILL WORK. HISTORY SHOWED IT WORKED IN THE 1980’S AND
THE 1990’S. WE NEED TO HAVE A REINFORCED MESSAGE TO STAY
AWAY FROM THESE DRUGS, MINIMIZE YOUR EXPOSURE TO THEM. DON’T GET STARTED, AND YOU WON’T GET ADDICTED. IN 1980, OVER 50% OF HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS IN
AMERICA ACKNOWLEDGED USING AN ILLEGAL DRUG. ABOUT 15 YEARS LATER, THAT HAVE BEEN CUT TO
LESS THAN HALF THAT NUMBER. THAT IS THE FIRST THING, GET FEWER PEOPLE
MOVING INTO IT. LAW ENFORCEMENT DOES IN FACT HAVE A CRITICAL
ROLE TO PLAY IN THIS. WE SIMPLY AS PART OF PREVENTION, PART OF STOPPING
THE DISTRIBUTION NETWORKS OUT THERE, AND IT PLAYED A BIG PART IN THE REDUCTION OF DRUG
USE, TOO, IN THE 1980’S AND 1990’S. I THINK THE THIRD THING IS TREATMENT. WE TRY TO DO ALL WE CAN ON THE TREATMENT AGENDA,
BUT IT IS NOT A CURE-ALL. MANY PEOPLE GO IN AND OUT OF TREATMENT. THEY ARE NOT SUCCESSFUL. OFTEN, THEIR LIVES ARE ENDED BY THIS ADDICTION. THEY NEVER OVERCOME THE ADDICTION. SO PREVENTING ADDICTION, PREVENTING ADDICTION
IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT WE CAN DO. WE CAN HELP PEOPLE WHO ARE ADDICTED, BUT IT
IS STILL A ROUGH ROAD.>>WHAT YOU’RE COMBATING IN THE 1980’S WAS
VERY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT YOU FACE TODAY. ARE YOU SAYING YOU BELIEVE THE SAME STRATEGIES
USED TO COMBAT STREET DRUGS CAN BE USED TO COMBAT THE PRESCRIPTION OPIOID EPIDEMIC? ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS: WELL, ESSENTIALLY,
THE THREE PRINCIPLES I JUST ANNOUNCED, THE WAY YOU FIGHT BACK AGAINST DRUG ADDICTION,
I DO BELIEVE THAT PRESCRIPTION PROBLEM IS DIFFERENT. WE WILL STEP UP OUR EFFORTS ON THAT. WE HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS KIND OF DEATHS FROM
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS INCLUDING HEROIN AND FENTANYL. THE DEATH RATE IS MUCH HIGHER THAN IT WAS
THE ‘80’S. AND THE PURITY OF DRUGS IS MUCH HIGHER. EVEN MARIJUANA IS MORE POTENT. HEROIN IS UP TO 80% OFTEN. I AM TOLD OR I REMEMBER IT WAS 20% OR 15%
ON THE STREET DRUGS IN THE 1980’S. THIS IS AN EXTRAORDINARY THING. YOU THROW FENTANYL IN IT, AND YOU GET DEATH. MR. SECRETARY PRICE: LET ME MAKE THIS REALLY CLEAR,
THE PRESIDENT IS ABSOLUTELY COMMITTED TO ENDING THIS CRISIS. A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, THE AMOUNT OF MONEY
THAT THE ADMINISTRATION PUT INTO FIGHTING THE OPIOID CRISIS WAS ABOUT $250 MILLION. FY17: $811 MILLION, SO THE AMOUNT OF MONEY
IS INCREASING SIGNIFICANTLY. THE PRESIDENT IS ABSOLUTELY COMMITTED TO MAKING
CERTAIN THAT WE STAND THAT TIME. THE COMMISSION IS JUST ONE PORTION OF THE
STRATEGY. AND THE COMMISSION WAS PUT TOGETHER TO COME
BACK IN ONE YEAR, TWO YEARS, FOUR YEARS AND MAKE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS. THE COMMISSION IS CHARGED WITH COMING FORWARD
WITH RECOMMENDATIONS THIS FALL. AND THEY ARE ON TRACK TO BE ABLE TO DO SO. AT HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, WE HAVE DEVELOPED
A FIVE-POINT STRATEGY TO ADDRESS THE OPIOID CRISIS, WHICH INVOLVES, AS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
SAID: PREVENTION, TREATMENT, AND RECOVERY. IN ADDITION TO THAT, MAKING CERTAIN THAT OVERDOSE
REVERSING DRUGS, NALOXONE AND NARCAN ARE AVAILABLE WHEREVER AND WHENEVER THEY MIGHT BE NEEDED
IN EVERY TOWN AND CITY ACROSS THIS COUNTRY. THIRD IS TO IDENTIFY FROM A PUBLIC HEALTH
STANDPOINT WHY WE ARE SEEING THIS SIGNIFICANT INCREASE. JUST 10 YEARS AGO, THE DEATHS FROM OVERDOSES
WERE 10% OF WHAT THEY ARE RIGHT NOW. AS WAS MENTIONED, IN 2015, APPROACHING 60,000,
AND THE NUMBERS FOR 2017 ARE NO BETTER. SO THERE HAS TO BE AN ANSWER TO THE WHY. WHY IS IT THAT INDIVIDUALS ARE BECOMING ADDICTED
TO A GREATER DEGREE? WHY IS IT THAT THEY HAVE LOST HOPE? WHAT IS GOING ON IN OUR SOCIETY? FOURTH IS THE WHOLE AREA OF EXCITING SCIENTIFIC
DISCOVERIES THAT WE’RE ON THE CUSP OF BEING ABLE TO SEE ACCOMPLISHED. PAIN MEDICATION THAT IS NON-EUPHORIC SO THAT
THERE’S NO DRUG-SEEKING BEHAVIOR ONCE AN INDIVIDUAL IS GIVEN APPROPRIATELY A PRESCRIPTION
FOR PAIN MEDICATION. THERE’S THE POSSIBILITY OF HAVING A VACCINE
FOR ADDICTION THAT IS AN EXCITING AND POSSIBLE PROSPECT THAT NIH IS WORKING ON. I AM HAPPY TO GO FURTHER. THE FIFTH ONE IS HOW WE MANAGE PAIN IN THIS
NATION, AND WE HAVE MANAGED IT DIFFERENTLY AND MANY WOULD SUGGEST THAT PART OF THE REASON
WE ARE HAVING ONE OF THE CHALLENGES WE ARE HAVING IS BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STEPPED
IN ABOUT 20 YEARS AGO AND SAID PAIN IS A FIFTH VITAL SIGN AND THAT PHYSICIANS AND OTHER PROVIDERS
WERE INCENTIVIZED TO PRESCRIBE OPIOID NARCOTICS, AND THAT BEGAN A SIGNIFICANT CURVE UPWARD
OR IT CORRELATES WITH THE SIGNIFICANT CURVE UPWARD. WE ARE WORKING WITH THE V.A. ADMINISTRATION BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE THAT
BEGAN TO TRY TO TURN BACK THAT TIDE SO WE CAN NOT HAVE MORE OVERDOSES IN THIS NATION
BUT HAVE LESS. THIS ADMINISTRATION IS ABSOLUTELY COMMITTED
TO TURNING IT AROUND.>>MR. ROSENBERG, MAY I ASK YOU A QUESTION BECAUSE
A LOT OF THIS INVOLVES MEDICARE FRAUD. THAT WOULD MEAN OVERDOSING, OVERPRESCRIBING
TO SENIORS. IN WHAT WAY ARE THEY ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE
TO OVERDOSES OF OPIOIDS?>>YOU HAVE ALL OF THESE SMART PEOPLE UP HERE,
AND YOU PICK ON ME? WELL, I THINK SENIORS HAVE TO BE PARTICULARLY
CAREFUL FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS. FIRST, AS YOU GET OLDER, YOU TAKE MORE AND
MORE DRUGS, PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS, SO THERE ARE MORE DANGERS OF DRUG INTERACTION. SO, SENIORS MIGHT BE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO FALLS
OR DISORIENTATION, DIZZINESS, AND OPIOIDS CAN EXACERBATE THAT. SECOND, SENIORS MIGHT NOT BE OPIOID TOLERANT. IN FACT, DIFFERENT PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT PHYSIOLOGICAL
REACTIONS TO THIS STUFF. AND SO IF YOU ARE NOT OPIOID TOLERANT BUT
YOU ARE A SENIOR CITIZEN, THE EFFECT CAN BE EVEN GREATER. THIRD, YOU DID NOT QUITE ASK THIS BUT I AM
GOING TO ANSWER IT ANYWAY. SENIORS, BECAUSE THEY TEND TO HAVE LOTS OF
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, THEY HAVE A LOT OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS IN THEIR MEDICINE CABINETS, SO ONE WAY
THAT EVERYONE CAN HELP INCLUDING SENIORS IS TO THINK ABOUT OUR NATIONAL DRUG TAKE BACK
DAYS. CAN I MAKE A PITCH FOR THAT REAL QUICK? TWICE A YEAR, THE DEA DOES A NATIONAL DRUG
TAKE BACK. ANONYMOUSLY, WE TAKE YOUR STUFF, WE DO NOT
READ THE LABELS, AND WE INCINERATE IT. HERE’S A REMARKABLE NUMBER PETE, IN APRIL
WHEN WE DID OUR LAST ONE, WE TOOK IN 900,000 POUNDS OF DRUGS FROM MEDICINE CABINETS AROUND
THE COUNTRY. WE PARTNERED WITH 4200 LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES. WE WERE IN 5500 SITES IN THE UNITED STATES. WE ARE GOING TO DO THIS AGAIN AT THE END OF
OCTOBER. AND SO SENIORS ALSO PLAY A BIG ROLE IN THAT. SO THEY ARE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE. THERE IS MORE DRUG INTERACTION. THEY HAVE MORE STUFF IN THE MEDICINE CABINETS. BECAUSE FOUR OUT OF FIVE NEW HEROIN USERS
STARTED ON PRESCRIPTION PILLS, I SHOULD ALSO ADD THAT MOST OF THOSE WHO STARTED ON PRESCRIPTION
PILLS GOT IT FROM SOMEONE WHO GOT IT LEGITIMATELY.THAT IS WHY YOU NEED TO CLEAN OUT THOSE MEDICINE
CABINETS.>>QUESTION FOR GENERAL SESSIONS AND THE ADMINISTRATOR
AND ANYONE ELSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO JUMP IN. THE NUMBER THAT YOU MENTIONED, 59,000 PEOPLE
DYING IN 2016, THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY INVOLVING OPIOID ADDICTION, A CASE THAT STILL HAUNTS
ME, I THINK IT WAS IN PENNSYLVANIA. BOTH PARENTS OD-ING THE INFANT DYING AS A
RESULT OF THE PARENTS BEING DOWNSTAIRS DEAD AND NO ONE THERE TO TAKE CARE OF THE INFANT. WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE? OBVIOUSLY SOMETHING IS NOT WORKING FOR THE
COUNTRY TO UNDERSTAND THE LEVEL OF THIS PROBLEM AND THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM. WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT SHOULD BE? ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS: I WILL JUST SAY
I THINK YOU ARE CORRECT THAT IT HAS NOT DAWNED ON US, THE ENORMITY OF THE DEATHS WE ARE SEEING
FROM ILLEGAL DRUG USE. 52,000 LAST YEAR. AROUND 50,000. WE PROJECT AROUND 60,000 THIS YEAR. IT IS STILL GOING UP DRAMATICALLY. IN NEW HAMPSHIRE A FEW MONTHS AGO, I WAS THERE
WITH A LARGE CROWD OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. 50 MOTHERS STOOD BEFORE THOSE KIDS WHO LOST
A CHILD TO DRUG OVERDOSE. THIS IS VERY REAL. IT IS A MUCH MORE DEATH DEALING CRISIS THAN
WE HAD WITH DRUGS EVEN IN THE 1980’S SO I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT. TOM, LET ME ASK YOU TO COMMENT. MR. SECRETARY PRICE: AS I MENTIONED, THE ADMINISTRATION
IS ABSOLUTELY COMMITTED TO STEMMING THIS TIDE. I HAVE BEEN GOING AROUND THE COUNTRY TO COMMUNITIES
LARGE AND SMALL WITH KELLYANNE CONWAY TO TALK WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT, TO TALK WITH HEALTHCARE
PROVIDERS, TO TALK WITH FAITH-BASED FOLKS, TO TALK WITH RECOVERING ADDICTS TO RECOVERED
ADDICTS, PARENTS OF FOLKS WHO HAVE DIED. AND I WAS STRUCK BY SOMETHING THAT A RECOVERED
ADDICT TO A RECOVERING ADDICT SAID IN MAINE THAT IS IF YOU’VE SEEN ONE ADDICT, YOU’VE
SEEN ONE ADDICT. SO THE CHALLENGE THAT WE HAVE IS THAT THE
LOCAL COMMUNITIES WHERE PEOPLE LOVE THEIR NEIGHBORS AND WANT TO CARE FOR THE NEIGHBORS
IS THE KEY TO SOLVING THIS CHALLENGE. ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS THAT WE’VE GOT
IS SOMEBODY HAS OVERDOSED AND IT HAS BEEN REVERSED AND HAVING THE HANDOFF OF THAT PERSON
TO A RECOVERY CENTER. OFTEN TIMES AROUND THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW,
SADLY, THAT REVERSAL OCCURS, AND THAT INDIVIDUAL IS NOT HANDED OFF TO A RECOVERY CENTER FOR
A VARIETY OF REASONS. I TALKED TO ONE FIREHOUSE IN WEST VIRGINIA
THAT HAS AN OPEN-DOOR POLICY FOR FOLKS WHO ARE OVERDOSING. THEY COME IN AND REVERSE THEM. ONE FIREMAN REVERSED THE SAME YOUNG LADY THREE
TIMES IN ONE DAY. THAT IS A SYSTEM FAILING THAT INDIVIDUAL WHEN
THEY CANNOT TAKE THAT PERSON AND GET THEM TO MOVE TOWARD RECOVERY. SO WE ARE WORKING WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES. WE WERE IN CHATTANOOGA LAST WEEK THAT IS DOING
INCREDIBLE THINGS AND BEGINNING TO SEE A TURNING OF THE CURVE OF INCREASING NOT JUST ADDICTION,
BUT OVERDOSE DEATHS. IT IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERY SINGLE PERSON, BUT
WHAT THAT MEANS IS WE HAVE TO BE AS ATTENTIVE AS WE CAN BE TO ALL OF THE STRATEGY ELEMENTS
THAT I OUTLINED EARLIER. AND THIS ADMINISTRATION IS COMMITTED TO DOING
JUST THAT.>>THANK YOU.

About Bill McCormick

Read All Posts By Bill McCormick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *