CLEARWATER, Fla., March 22, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Florida chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a non-profit mental health watchdog organization co-founded by the Church of Scientology and psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz, is calling on legislators to stop the epidemic of insurance billing fraud for mental health treatment.
“Florida’s well documented history of mental health fraud necessitates a better system for detection and prevention,” said Diane Stein, President of CCHR Florida. “Millions of dollars are stolen from taxpayers before anyone gets caught, and thousands of vulnerable patients become cash cows for unscrupulous administrators and criminal clinicians.” Stein cited the following examples:
- On February 22nd, Sam Konell, a longtime liaison between mental health clinics and Miami-Dade’s criminal court, was sentenced to 5 years in prison for funneling state-court defendants to a corrupt clinic. One clinic, the Greater Miami Behavioral Healthcare Center, fraudulently billed Medicare for more than $63 million in exchange for personal kickbacks to Konell. On top of his regular salary, Konell personally profited an extra $432,829, costing taxpayers an estimated $25 million .
- In October 2017, Shawn Thorpe, President of Coastal Bay Behavioral Health in Jacksonville, faced charges for $1.4 million in Medicaid fraud. Thorpe partnered with Ruben McLain, a man who secretly operated under a false name since he had been banned from Medicaid remuneration due to earlier fraud crimes.
- Philip Esformes, owner of over 30 Miami-area nursing and assisted living facilities, stole $1 billion from taxpayers together with a hospital administrator and physician’s assistant. Their elaborate billing fraud scheme was the largest ever brought before the U.S. Justice Department.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a compendium psychiatrists use to diagnose their patients, grows every year with new disorders that are largely voted into existence and void of any scientific basis. These “disorders” all come with an insurance billing code so that the psychiatrist can label a person and get paid for a controversial mental illness such as Caffeine Intoxication Disorder.
“Without a better system for detecting psychiatric insurance billing fraud Florida will see the epidemic of fraud continue and it is the taxpayer who will foot the bill,” said Stein.
For more information on psychiatric fraud or to report abuse please call CCHR Florida at 727-442-8820 or visit www.cchrflorida.org.
About CCHR: Initially established by the Church of Scientology and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, CCHR’s mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. It was L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, who brought the terror of psychiatric imprisonment to the notice of the world. In March 1969, he said, “Thousands and thousands are seized without process of law, every week, over the ‘free world’ tortured, castrated, killed. All in the name of ‘mental health.’” For more information visit, www.cchrflorida.org