INDIANAPOLIS - Medicaid prescription drug fraud is a growing problem in Indiana and Hoosier taxpayers are paying millions of dollars to cover the fraud.
The State of Indiana ranks in the top 10 for the number of prescriptions written by physicians, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medicaid fraud is a huge problem in the state, and many worry it will only get worse.
More people abuse prescription drugs in Indiana than heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined.
They are the most potent drugs on the market -- the opioids that have the power to heal and the power to kill. And increasingly, Indiana taxpayers have unwittingly foot the bill for an addict’s drug habit.
"For $7 a milligram, if you get 90 hydrocodone and you keep 45 for yourself and sell the other 45, it's a never-ending habit to sell to yourself," said Sgt. Dean Fischer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Prescription Fraud Unit.
The Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is pursuing dozens of cases against physicians and health care providers who have gamed the system at the expense of taxpayers.
Investigators say some doctors have inappropriately prescribed highly addictive drugs. Indiana taxpayers not only pay for the office visit, but the prescription pain medications as well.
"It is not unusual for the Medicaid program to pay a physician a million dollars over a four-year period. And we see the same amounts being paid out over the same period for the prescription," Tim McClure with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of Indiana said.
Over the past 18 months, no fewer than 15 medical professionals across the state have been accused of operating pill mills, much of it at taxpayer expense.
The Attorney General's office estimates that Medicaid prescription fraud alone costs Hoosier taxpayers upwards of $30 million a year.
"So by the time they give someone who is a Medicaid patient, these highly addictive drugs, they have patients that they continually sell, sometimes fatal doses. It's really a big problem in Indiana," Attorney General Greg Zoeller said.
Zoeller will ask the state legislature to increase his budget by a million dollars to increase staff just to fight the anticipated increase in prescription Medicaid fraud that will come with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.