Friday, July 16, 2010

36 arrested in Medicare scams totaling $280M

Federal authorities said Friday they are conducting the largest Medicare fraud bust ever in five different states and arrested dozens of suspects accused in scams totaling $251 million.

Several doctors and nurses were among those arrested in Miami, New York City, Detroit, Houston and Baton Rouge, La., accused of billing Medicare for unnecessary equipment, physical therapy and HIV treatments that patients typically never received. Ninety-four suspects were indicted, and authorities said 36 people had been arrested as of Friday morning.

More than 360 agents participated in Friday's raids, announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a health care fraud prevention summit in Miami. Officials said they chose Miami because it is ground zero for Medicare fraud. Authorities indicted 33 suspects in the Miami area, accused of charging Medicare for about $140 million in various scams.

Cleaning up an estimated $60 billion to $90 billion a year in Medicare fraud will be key to paying for President Barack Obama's proposed health care overhaul. Federal officials have promised more money and manpower to fight fraud, setting up strike forces in several cities.

Around the country, the schemes have morphed from the typical medical equipment scam in which clinic owners billed Medicare dozens of times for the same wheelchair, while never giving the medical equipment to patients. Now, officials say, the schemes involve a sophisticated network of doctors, clinic owners, patients and patient recruiters.

Violent criminals and mobsters are also tapping into the scams, seeing Medicare fraud as more lucrative than dealing drugs and having less severe criminal penalties, officials said.


Source and More:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100716/ap_on_re_us/us_medicare_fraud_arrests

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