Florida’s worst psychiatrists lose Medicaid patients

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.

Number 3.

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.

Number 2.

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.

Number 1.

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.

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12 Responses

  1. That’s just outrageous. Hermanez should be up for murder.

    • Psychiatrists need to be held accountable. Joseph Hernandez is not the only psychiatrist to leave behind a trail of cadavers. The Tufts University psychiatrist who prescribed the drugs that eventually killed 4 year old Rebecca Riley in the Boston area got off scot free. When somebody prosecutes a psychiatrist for the fraud of ‘off label’ prescribing, that can help. A major part of the problem is found in the over diagnosing and over drugging of patients. Deprive a doctor of his license to practice medicine, and more of these doctors will start practicing a little more restraint in their dosing of patients for fear that it could happen to them. If Hernandez had been servicing a high profile person like Michael Jackson, well, his doctor is serving a prison sentence. Joseph Hernandez was seeing people on Medicaid, and so it’s not likely to come to that end in his case.

  2. Florida might have a reputation for criminality and poverty. So shrinks might then think that since poverty and criminality are correlated to mental illness that they can diagnose and prescribe heroically. It doesn’t matter to them that circumstance and slack remedial policy are the actual causes of hardship. They are likely to get away with it long enough to make it worth their while.

    I don’t know enough about “Obamacare” to know whether it might have increased the confidence of shrinks to increasingly diagnose and prescribe, whether it be in Florida or anywhere that the shrinks might take the advantage.

    • P.S.
      I’ve posted an acknowlegment of my most recent aberrant posting behavior at the the foot of the blogpost Feb 28th.

    • Actually ProPublica has the ‘conflict of interest’ among psychiatrists scoop on every state in the union, and I’m sure that in that regard Florida is probably pretty typical. That said, we have our share of poverty and corruption to contend with, too.

      President Barrack Obama made deals with psychiatric drug companies to get his health care insurance package through, and this aspect of his pragmatism might be found troubling. This insurance is goiing to be paying for their drugs after all. More public health insurance coverage for the “mental illness” excuse is not likely to be godsend for the economy of the country, and I can’t imagine it dampening the false epidemic of this “disease” or that either.

  3. It is not an “excuse”. Calling it an excuse denies its sufferers a voice. You do not want to have yours denied, so why not respect theirs? They have the hardest time of all in getting heard.

    • It is not an excuse, per say, but it can be used as an excuse. It is an excuse in those instances in which it is used as an excuse. People can and do completely recover from serious “mental illness” labels. They don’t recover from mistreatment, and the use of such labels, by using the “mental illness” label as an excuse for not recovering.

      If resilience requires shouting, shout. The marginalization and disempowerment that come of prejudice are real issues, and the only resolution that I know of is to keep on pushing. When they push, push back. Organize, and through numbers and efforts we grow stronger.

      I don’t see any resolution in becoming a puppet. For me, there is either this struggle for the human and civil rights of all, or a turning of my back on people lost in the mental health system for becoming victims of a hopeless folly. Having a healthy heart, I chose the former rather than the latter.

  4. Mostly agreed.

    People who have been harmed in such a way have become conditioned to believe they are mentally ill. They are not using it as an excuse, they just don’t know any better and have become weakened by the way they have been treated.

    Then there are people who are ill in the first place. These people should not have to shout and push against someone like you to be recognised. As you say, it is a struggle for all, not just the ones you say can exist.

    • “You” as in me? I’m not the person making these decisions, G M. The person attaching the label is the psychiatrist. He has a degree that permits him to do so. The person detaching the label is the psychiatric survivor. He or she has the experience, every right to do so, and few legal rights.

      I’ve heard the line that some people are “sicker” than others and thus outpatient commitment laws, PACT teams, etc. I just don’t think it’s healthy, and I don’t happen to buy it. Many of these people are where they are because they are following the advice of a psychiatrist, and it is often just plain bad advice.

      Not to argue, “behavioral conditioning” is one of their words, not mine. There are other words that can be used, for example, “brainwashing” (It works for demonizing cultish groups.), or indoctrinated. I suppose once we overthrow the psychiatric state we can set up ‘reeducation camps’, but that has a bad connotation, too. I just think there is a point at which excessive Nanny Statism becomes a deficit. and I’d like to cling to my own brand of Do-It-Yourself independence (as opposed to slavish and Nanny State cripplism).

      • Yes, you! There are times when people are suffering from something other than psychiatrist induced conditions. You denying their existence or their voice makes you the same as those who deny you, the psychiatric survivor. You are just passing the pain on to an even more vulnerable group of people and I don’t think that you really want to do that.

        This is not about “Nanny Statism” and indepencence, it is about recognising that there are those even less fortunate than you out there who would benefit even more from the kind of changes we think ought to take place.

  5. I believe, apparently more than you do, that it is about Nanny Statism and independence to a large extent. I’m not saying that there aren’t people who are more unfortunate than I am, nor am I saying that we can’t do something to improve the fortunes of those who are more unfortunate. This is like saying, oh, what can be done for the homeless? Well, for starters, we could provide them with affordable housing. I’m not calling that Nanny Statism. I am calling Nanny Statism the fostering of a crippling dependence. Housing is a start in the direction that could lead to financial independence. In the Nanny State, you just have parasites feeding off captives.

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