MIAMI, FL – Federal agents took to the streets early this morning arrested and more than 30 suspects charged with Medicare fraud as part of a nationwide operation authorities are describing as the largest healthcare fraud take-down to date.
This morning’s arrests in Miami arrests coincided with other arrests in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit. In Miami, 32 defendants, including 2 doctors and 8 nurses, were charged for their participation in various fraud schemes involving a total of $55 million in false billings for home health care, durable medical equipment and prescription drugs.
Federal authorities charged more than 100 doctors, nurses and physical therapists in nine cities with Medicare fraud Thursday, part of a massive nationwide bust that snared more suspects than any other in history. Click here to watch ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer report on this historic bust.
More than 700 law enforcement agents fanned out to arrest 111 people accused of illegally billing Medicare more than $225 million. The arrests are the latest in a string of major busts in the past two years as authorities have struggled to pare the fraud that’s believed to cost the government between $60 billion and $90 billion each year. Stopping Medicare’s budget from hemorrhaging that money will be key to paying for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
To watch Attorney General Eric Holder’s press conference, click here.
Although the Indictments remain sealed, the defendants are charged with typical healthcare fraud schemes du jour, including physical therapy, mental health and home healthcare.
The defendants are accused of submitting false claims in excess of millions of dollars in to Medicare, the federal program for the elderly and disabled.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder partnered in 2009 to allocate more money and manpower in fraud hot spots. Thursday’s indictments were for suspects in Miami, Florida; Los Angeles, California; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Brooklyn, New York; Tampa, Florida, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. To read more about HEAT, Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, click here.
Ms. Sebelius has promised more decisive action on the front end, by vigorously screening providers and stopping payment to suspicious ones, under greater authority granted by the Affordable Care Act. Also announced today was the addition of Healthcare Fraud strike forces in Chicago and Dallas.
“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 — bringing hundreds of charges against criminals who had billed Medicare for hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year alone, our partnership recovered a record $4 billion on behalf of taxpayers. From 2008-2010, every dollar the Federal Government spent under its Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control programs averaged a return on investment of $6.80,” said HHS Secretary Sebelius.
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