111 Charged with Medicare Fraud in 9 Cities; Holder Hails Largest 'Takedown'

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 18, 2011 | Go to article overview

111 Charged with Medicare Fraud in 9 Cities; Holder Hails Largest 'Takedown'


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A Justice Department strike force on Thursday charged 111 persons in nine cities - including doctors, nurses, health care company owners and executives - in suspected Medicare fraud schemes involving more than $225 million in false billings.

It was the largest-ever federal health care fraud takedown.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., said that more than 700 law enforcement agents from the FBI, the Inspector General's Office at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), multiple Medicaid Fraud Control Units, and other state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the operation - executing search warrants across the country in connection with ongoing strike-force investigations.

Mr. Holder said arrests were made in Miami, Detroit, New York, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as Baton Rouge, La., and Tampa, Fla.

With this takedown, we have identified and shut down large-scale fraud schemes operating throughout the country, Mr. Holder said. "We have safeguarded precious taxpayer dollars. And we have helped to protect our nation's most essential health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid.

As today's arrests prove, we are waging an aggressive fight against health care fraud, he said.

The arrests were part of an ongoing operation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint Justice Department and Health and Human Services team of federal, state and local investigators designed to combat Medicare fraud through the use of Medicare data-analysis techniques and an increased focus on community policing.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said strike-force efforts have more than quadrupled over the past two years, bringing hundreds of charges against criminals who had billed Medicare for hundreds of millions of dollars. She said the strike force recovered $4 billion last year on behalf of taxpayers.

Every dollar the federal government spent under its health care fraud and abuse-control programs averaged a return on investment of $6.80.

The charges include a variety of health care fraud-related crimes: Conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, criminal false claims, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, money laundering and aggravated identity theft. The listed fraud schemes involve various medical treatments and services such as home health care, physical and occupational therapy, nerve-conduction tests and durable medical equipment. …

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