In case you missed it, two weeks ago, the federal Medicare Fraud Strike Force announced a nationwide sweep that ensnared 243 people for their alleged participation in fraudulent schemes to bill Medicare over $700 million. The individual cases are not all related, but the coordinated takedown was the largest we’ve seen so far—both in the number of targets and in the dollar amount of alleged loss. Among the targets were nineteen doctors and 27 nurses or other, licensed medical professionals.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a joint task force of the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services that prosecutes fraud, waste, and abuse in the Medicare program. Since 2007, it has brought cases against 2,300 people and expanded its base operations to nine cities: Baton Rouge, Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and Tampa.
This time around, the Strike Force descended on seventeen cities across Florida, Texas, Michigan, Louisiana, New York, and California. Miami alone accounted for 73 defendants.
The charges include healthcare fraud, illegal kickbacks, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft (which we recently covered here). They allege schemes involving home health care, physical therapy, psychotherapy, durable medical equipment, and pharmacies.
According to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, “the defendants … billed for equipment that wasn’t provided, for care that wasn’t needed, and for services that weren’t rendered.”
At least 44 of the targets were charged in connection with Medicare Part D, the prescription-drug-benefit program, which is the fastest-growing part of Medicare and thus a rising priority of enforcement. These charges include billing for drugs that either were not dispensed, were expired or adulterated, or were trafficked in for illegitimate use.
Here’s the Justice Department’s press release.