By Gabriella Borter
April 17, 2019
(Reuters) - Dozens of medical professionals in Appalachia, a region hard-hit by the U.S. opioid crisis, have been charged with writing hundreds of thousands of illegal prescriptions and committing healthcare fraud, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Sixty people, including 31 doctors, were accused of illegally prescribing opioid drugs in exchange for cash and sexual favors in the rural, mountainous region stretching from Pennsylvania and West Virginia to Alabama and Louisiana.
“The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.
Some 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The charges were the result of an investigation by the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, a joint law enforcement agency created in December to crack down on prescription fraud schemes that have contributed to the deadly drug epidemic.
The charges were filed against individuals in seven states: West Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania.
One doctor in Tennessee who called himself the "Rock Doc" was accused of bargaining for sexual favors by prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines, federal authorities said in the statement. Another doctor in Alabama allegedly recruited prostitutes to become patients at his clinic and allowed them to abuse drugs in his home.
Several doctors were accused of writing pre-signed, blank prescriptions for controlled substances without medically examining the patients that received them.
A few were accused of running "pill mills," including one in Ohio that allegedly distributed over 1.75 million pills between October 2015 and October 2017.
The period in which many doctors were accused of illegally and excessively dispensing drugs coincided with a spike in overdoses in the United States. Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent between July 2016 and September 2017 in 45 states, according to the CDC.
Reuters Health Information © 2019
Cite this: Dozens of Doctors in 7 States Charged in Opioid Fraud Bust - Medscape - Apr 17, 2019.
August 3, 2017—On April 24th, a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical exam became available to licensed private pilots. The new program allows private pilots to obtain a BasicMed medical exam in lieu of a 3rd Class Medical Certificate provided by an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). Providers are not required to become FAA “certified” to provide the BasicMed exam, however they must meet certain requirements.
The BasicMed exam can be performed by an AME or by a physician licensed by a state medical board. That language seemed to apply only to medical and osteopathic doctors. However, on July 14, TeamCME received FAA confirmation that DCs are Specialty Physicians when considered as “Chiropractic Physicians” by their state chiropractic licensing board. To be able to participate as a BasicMed provider, the state chiropractic scope of practice must also include the ability to perform the components of the BasicMed exam.
TeamCME is suggesting that DCs not perform the BasicMed physical until their state licensing board has clarified the board’s position on physician status and scope of practice. State chiropractic licensing boards are being contacted by the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards with information on how to proceed. As state licensing boards take action, TeamCME will be providing updates to the FAA and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).
There are at least 31 state boards that allow DCs to use the phrase “chiropractic physician.” They are listed below. Performing physical exam similar to the BasicMed is included in the chiropractic scope of practice in 47 states.
For comparative purposes, the BasicMed physical exam is slightly less comprehensive than the commercial driver physical. However, the protocol to determine the fly/no fly decision is significantly different. Even those who are certified in the National Registry to perform CDL physicals will need limited preliminary training to get this right. Those not authorized to perform CDL physicals will likely need significantly more training.
There are tens of thousands of private pilots who are opting to obtain the BasicMed flight physical, and there are many reports of difficulty finding a provider willing to perform it. The FAA medical program is considered by many to be the gold standard. This significant opportunity has the potential to affect other federal physical exam programs that currently exclude DCs.
Get involved in the expanding opportunities that exist for performing the FAA BasicMed and FMCSA Commercial Driver physical exam.
For more BasicMed information go to:
Join our BasicMed Email List: http://eepurl.com/cYiHGb
Learn about CDL physicals: http://www.teamcme.com/national-registry-certificed-medical-examiner-training/certification-training/initial-training/
Already performing CDL physicals? Join our CME email list: http://eepurl.com/cQK06b
States where “chiropractic physician” is acceptable:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia
State chiropractic scope of practice that allows physical exams:
All states except: New York, Washington, Michigan
Source: TeamCME-National Network of Certified Medical Examiners
"Virginia DCs Regain Ability to Conduct CDL Physical Exams"Monday, May 1, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 17, 2017
Virginia DCs Regain Ability to Conduct CDL Physical Exams
Afton, VA – The Unified Virginia Chiropractic Association (Unified VCA) is pleased to report that the organization’s HB 1688 was passed and signed into law by Governor MacAuliffe on February 24, 2017. It becomes effective July 1, 2017.
The legislation is an important affirmation that Virginia DCs have training consistent with the demands of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (https://nationalregistry.fmcsa.dot.gov/NRPublicUI/home.seam).
The Unified VCA would like to give special thanks to Michael Megehee, DC, President of TeamCME and the National Network of DOT Medical Examiners, and Craig Little, DC, President of the Council of Chiropractic Education. The doctors travelled to Virginia in June of last year to provide vital testimony to the Virginia Board of Health Professions in support of the bill. For the full list of actions through the legislative session on this issue, go to http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+sum+HB1688.
As Unified VCA president Dr. David Dolberg observes, “Virginia Chiropractors can now take advantage of this great opportunity to train and become certified for listing on the national registry. This is a unique opportunity for our profession to provide a vital service to our respective communities while at the same time strengthening our practices.”
Before offering these CDL physical exams, a doctor must take a special course, pass a DOT test, and be registered as a “Certified Medical Examiner” (CME). To take the exam to be a CME, doctors need a registration number from the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration/ National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (FMCSA/NRCME). Dr. David Brown, Executive Director of the Virginia Department of Health Professions, has forwarded the necessary documentation to the FMCSA/NRCME so that it can assign these registration numbers to DCs.
For more information, contact Dr. Joe Foley, Unified VCA Legislative Committee Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ms. Julie K. Connolly, Unified VCA Executive Director, phone 540-932-3100, email email@example.com.