Federal authorities announced a record-breaking coordinated fraud takedown Wednesday that charged 301 people involved in various healthcare fraud schemes totaling $900 million in false claims.
The historic fraud bust, led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, was another notch in the belt for federal authorities, surpassing last year’s coordinated arrest of 243 people linked to $712 million in false billing. Like last year’s takedown, authorities underscored the importance of the collaborative effort, which spanned 36 federal districts and involved several federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, as well as local and state authorities, including 23 Medicaid Fraud Control Units.
“As this takedown should make clear, health care fraud is not an abstract violation or benign offense,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said during a press conference announcing the takedown. “It is a serious crime. The wrongdoers that we pursue in these operations seek to use public funds for private enrichment. They target real people--many of them in need of significant medical care.”
Lynch highlighted several specific schemes, including one in which a network of clinics in Brooklyn is accused of bribing patients in order to bill Medicare and Medicaid more than $38 million for unnecessary medical treatment. She also identified several new fraud trends within Medicare Part D, including evidence of stolen doctor IDs used to create fake prescriptions, and a growing number of schemes involving compound medications, which were linked to a massive spike in fraudulent billing within Tricare last year.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell credited the work of nearly 1,000 federal agents who “employed advanced analytics and cutting edge investigative work” to expose various schemes. She added that the high cost of drugs, and the fact that Part D is a relatively new program, makes it a target for fraud.