Years ago, the Louisiana Legislature approved laws allowing the development of Casinos in the state. Not long after, pain management clinics began to pop up in Texas. Coincidence?
By C J Oakes
One of the most interesting things about the growth of both the casino and prescription pain medication industries in LA and TX is the fact that both are most prolific near the border between the two. There now exists a very lucrative vice trade between the two states. Some of it is perfectly legal, some not so much, but all of it makes enormous sums for the state coffers. Look for no conclusions here, only facts. Then decide for yourself what is going on.
Casinos on the Louisiana Side
On the Louisiana side of things, casino operations draw billions each year from Texas. Although the state of Texas was not able to prevent Indian Casinos at reservations (lawmakers tried), the casinos in Louisiana thrive from Texas traffic. Each Friday, the I-10 and I-20 corridors are flooded with traffic from TX to LA. (Dallas and Houston to Shreveport and Lake Charles).
- Revenue generated from taxes flows directly into state coffers, which are then diverted by law to various services statewide.
- The laws in Louisiana prohibit transporting more than $900 so when visitors are stopped by traffic police and have more than this on their person, the money can be “arrested” and kept, though the traveler is not charged with a crime. These funds go directly into the jurisdiction of the arresting officer. Texas has a similar law.
Pain Management Clinics on the Texas Side
On the Texas side, pain management clinics provide a massive source of revenue from Louisiana visitors. Here is how it works.
- People with medical conditions such as a broken back or anxiety visit pain management doctors, get a prescription, then fill it with a cash only pharmacy which only deals in a few medications. The clinics are also generally cash only with a few accepting insurance, though this is seldom used.
- The medications prescribed are Hydrocodone Bitartrate (Lorcet, Lortab, Vicodin), Carisoprodol (Soma), Alprazolam (Xanax), and Oxycodone Hydrochloride (Oxycontin).
- The patients then visit numerous clinics and pharmacies in the Dallas and Houston areas. This is called doctor-shopping. In fact, some patients see more than a dozen physicians and visit an equal number of pharmacies.
- Many of these patients provide fake doctor records for obtaining services.
- Each visit to a pain management clinic and pharmacy provides a one-month supply of the pain meds. If a person is visiting more than one doctor in a month, they either have a serious problem with the pills or are selling.
- Many of these patients sell the pills for both their living expenses and to support a costly addiction such as to cocaine and methamphetamine.
The state of Texas profits from this trade in two key ways:
- The revenue generated from the sales/services provided.
- With a law preventing anyone from having in their possession more than a single prescription at any given time. When traffic police pull them over and perform a search, if two sets of prescriptions are found, the person is arrested for illegal possession (though rarely drug trafficking, which was supposedly the purpose of the law). This allows the state to charge the possessor with a fairly minor offense. This way, the convicts are able to return rather quickly to fueling the machine. Louisiana has a similar law.
Why Can’t the DEA Stop the Illegal Nature of the Narcotics Trade Between TX and LA?
This is the most confusing part.
The U.S. DEA pays regular visits to the pharmacies, yet oddly never notices that the same patients are using multiple pharmacies. They enter the pharmacies, go to the back, appear to check records, then leave. Seldom do they interact with the patients awaiting prescriptions nor do they ever seem to dig deeper into their histories. What do they do in the back?
Are they checking records?
Cannot say, because HIPPA protects private medical records falling into the wrong hands. But HIPPA allows that authorized government personnel may check records. So, the DEA should have no difficulty finding the doctor shoppers. How so?
Simple really. All they need to do is collect social security information, the number only. Add these numbers to a spreadsheet at each pharmacy visit. Then sort the numbers. Those appearing more than once in a given month are clearly abusing the system, likely the drugs, and possibly engaging in illegal narcotics sales.
If it is so simple, why doesn’t the DEA do this? You decide.