Doctors, nurses, therapists charged with bilking millions from Medicare
The US Department of Justice announced today they have arrested 111 nurses, therapists, doctors, executive and health care company owners for fraudulently billing Medicare for patient services that were never delivered
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force that is a collaborative agency and includes the US Department of Justice and the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been working to combat Medicare fraud through Medicare data analysis techniques that look more closely at communities. Today's arrests involved more than $225 million in false Medicare billing.
General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson announced 111 individuals in nine cities have been charged for alleged Medicare fraud.
“With this takedown, we have identified and shut down large-scale fraud schemes operating throughout the country. We have safeguarded precious taxpayer dollars. And we have helped to protect our nation’s most essential health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid,” said Attorney General Holder. “As today’s arrests prove, we are waging an aggressive fight against health care fraud.”
Involved in the arrests were FBI, HHS-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), multiple Medicaid Fraud Control Units, and other state and local law enforcement agencies that included more than 700 law enforcement agents who have also issued 16 additional search warrants.
The US Department of Justice says today's arrests are the largest ever in "an aggressive fight against health care fraud.”
They also announced they will be expanding Medicare Fraud Strike Force efforts to Dallas and Chicago. “Over the last two years our joint efforts have more than quadrupled the number of anti-fraud Strike Force teams operating in fraud hot spots around the country from two to nine -- with the latest additions Chicago and Dallas, said Sebelius, who also noted for every dollar spent for Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control programs from 2008 to 2010, the return is $6.80. Sebelius says the task force recovered $4 billion on behalf of taxpayers last year alone.
The Medicare fraud schemes leading to today's arrests included submission of claims for treatments and procedures that were never provided or medically unnecessary, accomplished by paying cash kickbacks to patient recruiters, Medicare beneficiaries and other co-conspirators in return for Medicare beneficiary information.
Daniel R. Levinson, HHS Inspector General said, “These unprecedented operations send a clear message – we will not tolerate criminals lining their pockets at the expense of Medicare patients and taxpayers."
Two physicians and 8 nurses from Miami are included among 32 defendants who fraudulently charged Medicare $55 million for home health care, durable medical equipment and prescription drugs.
Three doctors, three physical therapists and one occupational therapist, were charged in Detroit for trying to defraud Medicare of $23 million for physical therapy, podiatry, psychotherapy and nerve conduction studies.
In Brooklyn, ten individuals including 3 doctors and 1 physical therapist were charged for false billings for physical therapy, proctology services and nerve conduction tests that involved $90 million.
Ten arrests were made in Tampa for false Medicare claims for physical therapy, durable medical equipment and pharmaceuticals involving $5 million. Other arrests in Houston and Dallas involved schemes for physical therapy, durable medical equipment, home health care and chiropractor services - nine individuals in Houston and seven in Dallas that included $8 million and $2.8 million in false billing respectively.
In Los Angeles, there were five defendants who were involved in false Medicare claims submissions for $28 million, and in Chicago 11 individuals were indicted for $6 million in Medicare claims for home health, diagnostic testing and prescription drugs.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations was conceived March 2007. Since then, in nine districts, more than 990 individuals have been charged with falsely billing Medicare for more than $2.3 billion.
Today's arrests by The Medicare Fraud Strike Force involved 111 individuals who are being investigated by individual Strike Force teams throughout the country, in what officials call and "aggressive fight" against Medicare fraud. The defendants are alleged to have submitted more than $225 million in false Medicare claims.
Source: Department of Justice
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