Bass, Berry & Sims attorney John Kelly was quoted by The Washington Post in an article about the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to charge ex-NFL players accused of making nearly $4 million in fraudulent claims from the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, a private plan carved out of the collective bargaining agreement between team owners and players. In the article, John explains that the government often takes on a case like this if there is a bigger message to be sent. “It’s salacious; it’s going to get headlines; it’s going to give them an opportunity to send a message that they’re focused on more than just Medicare fraud, but they’re looking at fraud across all types of health-care benefit plans,” said John.
John says that the money involved can’t be compared with the amount of loss in a Medicare case, but because the NFL’s plan serves a smaller population, the $3.9 million the former players submitted in fraudulent claims still can be significant. “If you’re talking about a private health-care benefit plan that’s designed to take care of former NFL players — who as we know might have some serious health-care issues and expenses — that’s a lot of money,” John said. The four million dollars can buy a lot of services and products for folks who need it.
Most of the players were charged with health-care fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit health-care fraud, which carry a legal maximum penalty of 50 years combined.
The full article, “Why Were Feds Investigating NFL Players’ Health-Care Fraud? Perhaps for the Publicity,” was published by The Washington Post on December 13, 2019, and is available online.