What a bizarre way to make a headline. Maybe health care should be more easily accessible for NFL players.
Former Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter was one of several former football stars charged with conspiring to defraud a health care program created to benefit retired players.
Buckhalter, along with nine other retired NFL players, allegedly submitted fake claims to the NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan in exchange for kickbacks and bribes. Other players named in the suit include Clinton Portis, Joe Horn and Carlos Rogers.
According to court documents, it was a pretty detailed scam. The players submitted more than $3.9 million in fraudulent claims between June 2017 and December 2018. Their purchases largely centered on expensive medical equipment, like hyperbaric oxygen chambers and cryotherapy machines.
The NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan was established in 2006 as part of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement. Buckhalter has been charged with “one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud,” per The Associated Press.
The plan provides tax-free reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance for former players, their wives and dependents up to $350,000 per player. More than $3.9 million in fraudulent claims were submitted to the plan, with the plan paying out $3.4 million of the claims between June 2017 and December 2018, according to the indictments.
“Ten former NFL players allegedly committed a brazen, multi-million dollar fraud on a health care plan meant to help their former teammates and other retired players pay legitimate, out-of-pocket medical expenses,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “Today’s indictments underscore that whoever you are, if you loot health care programs to line your own pockets, you will be held accountable by the Department of Justice.”
Correll Buckhalter Led Three-Headed Running Attack for Eagles
Remember Correll Buckhalter’s tenure in Philadelphia? It was short but memorable.
The former Eagles running back rushed for 2,155 yards and 18 touchdowns during five seasons in midnight green before moving on to Denver. Buckhalter was most famously known as a member of the Eagles’ high-powered, three-headed monster rushing attack that paired him with Duce Staley and Brian Westbrook in 2003.
The trio rushed for a combined 1,613 yards and 20 touchdowns and helped lead the team to their third straight NFC Championship Game where they lost to Carolina.
“Running backs in this league take a lot of punishment, but this rotation helps us avoid that,” Buckhalter told the New York Times in 2003. “As hard as I worked to get back from the injury, I wanted to contribute this year, and it’s working out for all three of us.”
Buckhalter was coming off a torn ACL in 2002 after ripping his left knee at training camp. He came back and led the Eagles in rushing attempts (126) and rushing touchdowns (8) in 2003.
Never a saint, the running back was often in trouble for off-the-field issues. Buckhalter was suspended for a game after a routine traffic stop revealed he had marijuana in the car and he was disciplined by then-coach Andy Reid for skipping a team meeting.
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