Two men who authorities say took advantage of people struggling with opioid addiction by purchasing bogus insurance policies and sending them to questionable treatment centers out of state have been charged with several counts, the Massachusetts attorney general’s office said Friday.
Michael Hislop, 56, of Boston, and Timothy Hirsch, 38, of Pelham, New Hampshire, were charged Monday with multiple counts of theft, filing a false health care claim and conspiracy.
“People with substance use disorders deserve quality, safe and effective treatment options,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “As the opioid epidemic continues to plague our communities, we are not going to allow patients and their families to be taken advantage of and see their pain get even worse.”
Hislop, contacted by the Boston Globe, said: “I have never been involved in anything like this.” A voicemail message was left for Hirsch.
Hislop received commissions in 2016 while working as a “runner,” recruiting patients at drug addiction meetings in Massachusetts for treatment centers in Florida, the attorney general’s office said.
He conspired with Hirsch, an insurance agent, to draft false and deceptive insurance policies on behalf of patients, the office said. The Florida facility then billed the insurance companies for the treatment.
As a result, two Massachusetts insurance companies paid a total of about $ 730,000 in claims, authorities said.
After the policies were issued, Hislop paid for patients’ plane tickets to Florida and was responsible for paying monthly insurance premiums, authorities said. But those premiums weren’t always paid, insurance policies lapsed, and patients were often kicked out of treatment facilities or rushed for treatment in a sober home.
Some patients have relapsed and found themselves stranded in Florida with no way to get home, authorities said.
They are due to be brought to justice on October 25 in Suffolk Superior Court.