The Obama administration escalated its nationwide crackdown on health-care fraud Wednesday, announcing charges against 91 individuals in eight cities who are accused of participating in Medicare fraud schemes involving nearly $300 million in false billing.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. revealed that of those arrested, eleven were doctors, three were nurses and 10 were licensed health professionals.
“The defendants charged in this take down are accused of stealing precious taxpayer resources and defrauding Medicare… jeopardizing the integrity of our healthcare system and our nation’s most critical healthcare program for personal gain,” Holder explained, describing what he said was the largest take down for Medicare fraud in U.S. history.
The cases in the coordinated fraud sting – carried out by the Joint Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a multi-agency team of federal, state and local investigators – consisted of billing for services never provided, money laundering, providing kickbacks for Medicare beneficiary numbers, and in one particularly greedy case, threatening Medicare recipients that they would lose their housing if they did not participate in mental health sessions at a community center in Miami – whether they needed them or not.
“Today’s arrests are a powerful warning to those who would try to defraud taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “[Our] efforts to stop criminals don’t end here because the Affordable Care Act gives us new tools to prevent Medicare fraud before it is committed.”