Medicare fraud strike force charges 53 providers, execs and beneficiaries

Well, HHS head Kathleen Sebelius had promised that Medicare's Fraud Strike Force was stepping up operations, and I guess she wasn't kidding. Today, the agency announced (via @hhs_gov on Twitter, interestingly enough) that 53 people had been indicted for schemes involving $50 million in false Medicare claims. The Strike Force, a cooperative effort with the U.S. Department of Justice, found the alleged fraud as part of the third phase of a comprehensive criminal, civil and administrative investigation.

The charges have been lodged against a group including not only doctors and healthcare executives, but also beneficiaries. The complaints allege that providers submitted claims for medically necessary procedures, or procedures that were never provided, and that beneficiaries accepted cash kickbacks for submitting forms saying they had gotten the procedures.

Agents from the FBI and the HHS Office of the Inspector General have begun arresting defendants in Detroit, Miami and New York City. Arrests in Detroit, in particular, focused on defeating infusion therapy and physical/occupational therapy schemes.

Since March 2000, when the two agencies began their enforcement efforts, the Strike Force has gotten indictments against more than 250 individuals who have collectively billed Medicare for more than $600 million.

To learn more about the indictments:
- read this HHS press release

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