Posted by Michael Picariello.
Former star Washington running back Clinton Portis, along with nine other former NFL players, have been charged with healthcare fraud after a $3.9 million scheme that involved the players submitting false claims to the NFL health program. The former athletes asked for reimbursements for around $40,000 to $50,000 for medical equipment that was never actually purchased by fabricating documentation submitted to the NFL. According to the CNBC article, this healthcare system has been in place for a while as it states, “The allegedly bogus claims were submitted to the Gene Upshaw National Football League Health Reimbursement Account Plan, which since 2006 has provided tax-free reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical costs of former players, their wives, and dependents of up to $350,000 per player” (CNBC). The players abused a system that the NFL uses to help former players as football is the most physically taxing sport that has long-term effects on an athlete.
The plan paid over $3.4 million from June 2017 to December 2018, but the fraud was stopped when the health insurer Cigna became suspicious. Some of the claims were for equipment used to treat horses so the company stopped paying the claims and notified authorities. The article states, “Information is charging devices regularly used against defendants who have reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty (CNBC). Six players have agreed to plead guilty and make a deal with prosecutors as four other former players have been arrested. Charges against the players include healthcare fraud and wire fraud with five being accused as the ringleaders.
The scheme devised by these 10 former players including a former star running back in Clinton Portis was proven to be highly illegal after there were missteps in their process of the fraud allowing Cigna to find these false claims. I think that players who surely made a good amount of money during their playing career should not be taking advantage of a system that is in place to help people with actual health issues. Football players struggle with many lingering issues after they retire, most notably CTE which affects the brain and can change a person for life, the fact that people were abusing the system to help people in actual need is embarrassing. The players involved should be prosecuted to the highest extent and be brought to justice for the mistakes they made. I think the Eastern District of Kentucky is handling this situation perfectly and making sure that this never happens again.
Michael is a marketing and finance student at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2025.