Fighting Medicare fraud is a top priority as the federal government looks to curb abuses and save money in the current fiscal problems facing the U.S and recently announced a victory in that battle. As part of that fight, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged 111 defendants in nine cities, including doctors, nurses, health care company owners and executives, and others, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving more than $225 million in false billing. The announcement comes as the results of charges of of various health care fraud-related crimes, including conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, criminal false claims, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, money laundering and aggravated identity theft. The charges are based on a variety of alleged fraud schemes involving various medical treatments and services such as home health care, physical and occupational therapy, nerve conduction tests and durable medical equipment.
“With this takedown, we have identified and shut down large-scale fraud schemes operating throughout the country. We have safeguarded precious taxpayer dollars. And we have helped to protect our nation’s most essential health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “As today’s arrest prove, we are waging an aggressive fight against health care fraud.”
As part of the announcement, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force is expanding its operations to two additional cities to further expand the multi-agency team of federal, state, and local investigators. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.
“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 Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.