33 Medicaid patients allegedly supplied drug dealers

Medicaid patients are drug dealers' newest suppliers, according to the Associated Press. Police in Buffalo, N.Y., have busted 33 people so far in a crackdown on Medicaid patients who allegedly sold their prescription drugs on the black market.

Patients who rely on Medicaid to pay for prescriptions have become a popular source of drugs like the painkiller OxyContin. After patients see a doctor or several doctors--often at no charge--they get prescriptions they can sell to a dealer for as much as $1,000, AP reports. The dealers then can sell the pills in one bottle for as much as seven times that amount--$7,200.

Ethel Johnson of Buffalo was one of the people charged. Secretly recorded phone conversations revealed that the sooner the 60-year-old could pick up her pills, the quicker she could sell them to her dealer. She has pleaded not guilty.

In the past, Medicaid fraud has involved people who obtained benefits through fraud, like a painter who lied about his income, excluding the half a million dollars he earned in rental income from his Hamptons homes. The Buffalo investigations turned up evidence of Medicaid patients who used their government-subsidized prescriptions as a source of income.

To learn more:
- read these articles from The Associated Press: article 1 and article 2

Related Articles:
CMS to fight Medicare, Medicaid fraud with high-tech 'bounty hunters'
New York Medicaid fraud bust reveals unusual cast of characters
New York hospitals implicated in Medicaid fraud