With just a handful of prescriptions to his name, psychiatrist Ernest Bagner III was barely a blip in Medicare’s vast drug program in 2009.
But the next year he churned them out at a furious rate — not just psychiatric drugs, but expensive pills for asthma, cholesterol, heartburn and blood clots.
By the end of 2010, Medicare had paid $3.8 million for Bagner’s drugs — one of the highest tallies in the country. He added another $2.6 million the following year, records analyzed by ProPublica show.
Bagner, 46, says there’s just one problem with this accounting: The prescriptions aren’t his. “All of that stuff you have is false,” he said.
By his telling, someone stole his identity while he worked at a strip-mall clinic in Hollywood, then forged his signature on prescriptions for hundreds of Medicare patients. Whoever did it, he was told, likely resold the drugs.
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