Florida has done a little to stem the tide of over diagnosing and over drugging that is plaguing that state. I imagine that it goes without saying that the state wouldn’t have done so without pressure from its concerned citizens. ProPublica, the psychiatric malpractice watchdog publication, has a story on this development, Florida Sanctions Top Medicaid Prescribers — But Only After A Shove.
3 Florida psychiatrists are so far known to have been chastised by having their Medicaid contracts suspended for their over prescription habits.
In 2009 alone Dr. Huberto Merayo is credited with prescribing drugs to the tune of $2,000,000. Since 2009 the doctor has earned more than $111,000 giving promotional talks for AstraZenica, Eli Lily, and Pfizer.
In May, Florida summarily ended his contract with Medicaid. But the action, though decisive, followed years of high prescribing by Merayo, according Florida’s own statistics. And he was booted only after public questioning by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who had asked states to investigate such cases.
In the Questionable Legality Department, Dr. Joseph N. Hernandez deserves and earns more than a mere dishonorable mention.
In another example, Florida allowed Dr. Joseph M. Hernandez of Lake City to continue prescribing narcotic pain pills to Medicaid patients for more than a year after he was arrested and charged in 2010 for trafficking in them.
The winner of our bad psychiatrist of the decade award goes out to Dr. Fernando Mendez-Villamil, Florida’s top pusher of neuroleptic drugs. Dr. Mendez-Villamil prescribed $4,700,000 worth of drugs in 2009.
Mendez-Villamil, who was officially terminated “without cause,” sued the state last year to have his Medicaid contract reinstated; the case is pending. His lawyer, Robert Pelier, said Mendez-Villamil was “collateral damage” in Grassley’s campaign.
Dr. Joseph Hermanez’s license to practice medicine was eventually taken away, but as we learn above not until a year after he was busted for drug trafficking, and in the Not Only Department, this suspension didn’t occur until 34 of his Medicaid patients had fatally over dosed. Hermanez was the states top prescriber of the pain killer oxycodone in 2009.
The tally thus far is 3 down, and many more to go, in Florida’s ongoing battle with psychiatric corruption and excess.