South Florida Accounts For 20% Of Medicare Fraud Cases

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Twentypercent of all federal Medicare fraud prosecutions are filed in South Florida, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey saidon Wednesday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports (South FloridaSun-Sentinel, 5/29). U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta and the Department of Justice last year established the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in Miami, which comprisesfederal agents and prosecutors (Weaver, Miami Herald, 5/29).

The strike force has brought 120 criminal and civil cases against more than 200defendants in South Florida who have beencharged with more than $638 million in fraud. Fraud cases involve such thingsas billing Medicare for medical equipment and prescriptions that beneficiariesdo not need, billing Medicare for services never provided, and stealinginformation from physicians and hospitals and submitting false claims toMedicare (Anderson, AP/Florida Times-Union, 5/28). Mukasey on Wednesday said,"Fighting the fraud and theft committed by these criminals is vital topreserving our health care system -- vital to its financial solvency, as wellas its integrity" (Miami Herald, 5/29).

According to the AP/Florida Times-Union, "South Florida haslong been described as one of the nation's hotbeds of Medicare fraud, alongwith the Los Angelesarea." Mukasey said the strike force is a model for other cities, adding,"The work you have started here has led the country on this issue" (AP/FloridaTimes-Union, 5/28). Mukasey said, "All of these cases takecriminals out of the system, and save or return much-needed dollars. They alsodeter others from trying to game the system," but he added, "Wecannot prosecute our way out of this problem" (Miami Herald,5/29).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. KaiserFamily Foundation.

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