Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Medicare fraud unit charges more than 70 people nationwide"

 — Federal officials today claimed they had detected about $295 million in false Medicare billings as the result of criminal investigations in six cities across the U.S.
More than 70 people were charged in the fraud "takedown" that officials said involved more than 400 law enforcement officials nationwide.
“The defendants charged in this takedown are accused of stealing precious taxpayer resources and defrauding Medicare – jeopardizing the integrity of our health care system and our nation’s most critical health care program for personal gain,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a joint announcement with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other federal officials.
Prosecutors said the 70 people charged in Los Angeles, Detroit, New York City, Miami, Baton Rouge and Los Angeles were in addition to 18 people charged last week in Detroit on similar complaints.
Investigators said the fraud schemes typically involved billing Medicare for services that were not needed and in many instances were never provided.
Among those charged were doctors, nurses and some health company owners.
The joint Department of Justice-HHS Medicare Fraud Task Force was created in March 2007. Officials said the lastest busts represented the largest sum of false billings since the strike force began.
Altogether, they said, more than 1,140 people have faced charges as a result of task force investigations that also have turned up about $2.9 billion in false Medicare billings.
Sebelius said the latest wave of charges should put other schemers on notice and touted new provisions in the 2010 federal health reform law, which she said provided new tools for fighting Medicare fraud.
The indictments allege a variety of misdeeds including the paying of cash kickbacks to Medicare enrollees who supplied their beneficiary information to providers who then submitted false claims for services.

The KHI News Service is an editorially-independent program of the Kansas Health Institute and is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy making environment.

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