Feds unleash largest Medicare fraud takedown worth $295M

In a massive crackdown on Medicare fraud, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force arrested and charged 91 people, including physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals in false billing schemes worth $295 million, announced Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday.

Described as the single biggest takedown in Strike Force history, this is the highest amount of false Medicare billings at one time.

The Strike Force includes federal, state, and local investigators aimed at fighting Medicare fraud. Citing Medicare fraud's effects on taxpayers, the federal government said it is coming down on false billings on a national level.

"As charged in these indictments, the defendants cover nearly the entire spectrum of healthcare providers, and perpetrated a variety of fraudulent schemes," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer in a press release yesterday. "From Brooklyn to Miami to Los Angeles, the defendants allegedly treated the Medicare program like a personal piggy bank."

Force officials charged the defendants in eight cities with conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, healthcare fraud, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, and money laundering. For example, some defendants allegedly billed for medical treatments and services, such as home health care, physical and occupational therapy, mental health services, psychotherapy, and durable medical equipment (DME) that were medically unnecessary or never provided.

"Today's arrests are a powerful warning to those who would try to defraud taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries," said Sebelius.

For more info:
- read the HHS statement
- read the USA Today article

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