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Archive for Saturday, July 17, 2010

94 charged in Medicare scams totaling $251 million

July 17, 2010

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— Elderly Russian immigrants lined up to take kickbacks from the backroom of a Brooklyn clinic. Claims flooded in from Miami for HIV treatments that never occurred. One professional patient was named in nearly 4,000 false Medicare claims.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talks to reporters during a news conference as Attorney General Eric Holder looks on Friday in Miami. Federal authorities said they are conducting the largest Medicare fraud bust ever in five different states and arrested dozens of suspects accused in scams totaling $251 million.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talks to reporters during a news conference as Attorney General Eric Holder looks on Friday in Miami. Federal authorities said they are conducting the largest Medicare fraud bust ever in five different states and arrested dozens of suspects accused in scams totaling $251 million.

Authorities said busts carried out this week in Miami, New York City, Detroit, Houston and Baton Rouge, La., were the largest Medicare fraud takedown in history — part of a massive overhaul in the way federal officials are preventing and prosecuting the crimes.

In all, 94 people — including several doctors and nurses — were charged Friday in scams totaling $251 million. Federal authorities, while touting the operation, cautioned the cases represent only a fraction of the estimated $60 billion to $90 billion in Medicare fraud absorbed by taxpayers each year.

For the first time federal officials have the power to overhaul the system under Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which gives them authority to stop paying a provider they suspect is fraudulent. Critics have complained the current process did nothing more than rubber-stamp payments to fraudulent providers.

“That world is coming to an end,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told The Associated Press after speaking at a health care fraud prevention summit in Miami. “We’ve got new ways to go after folks that we’ve never had before.”

Officials said they chose Miami because it is ground zero for Medicare fraud, generating roughly $3 billion a year. Authorities indicted 33 suspects in the Miami area, accused of charging Medicare for about $140 million in various scams.

Suspects across the country were accused of billing Medicare for unnecessary equipment, physical therapy and other treatments that patients never received. In one $72 million scam at Bay Medical in Brooklyn, clinic owners submitted bogus physical therapy claims for elderly Russian immigrants.

Patients, including undercover agents, were paid $50 to $100 a visit in exchange for using their Medicare numbers and got bonuses for recruiting new patients. Wiretaps captured hundreds of kickback payments doled out in a backroom by a man who did nothing but pay patients all day, authorities said.

Cleaning up Medicare fraud will be key to paying for President Barack Obama’s proposed health care overhaul. Federal officials have allocated more money and manpower to fight fraud, setting up strike forces in seven cities with a plan to expand to a dozen more.

So far, the operations are responsible for more than 720 indictments that collectively billed the Medicare program more than $1.6 billion.

Comments

kernal 4 years, 5 months ago

Give them life in prison with the hard core.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

Thursday, June 25, 2009 Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Insurers make paperwork confusing because "they realize that people will just simply give up and not pursue it" if they think they have been shortchanged, Potter said.

More on this story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062401636.html

wolfy 4 years, 5 months ago

This is healthcare cost reform in action. Kathleen Sebelius is a real Progressive and always has been. She understands that government clearly has an important role to play in our complex world and follows through with capable, independent work for the people. The best way to make the "government is always bad/starve the beast" meme go away is to continue appointing devoted, competent government officials like HHS Secretary Sebelius to high offices.

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 5 months ago

Actually, the larger the government gets, the more likely it is to be subject to waste, fraud and abuse such as this.

Expect taxpayers to get scammed out of millions more as health care "reform" is implemented.

pace 4 years, 5 months ago

This is great. The health care bill and the credit card bill are acts that have started a long needed clean up.

boltzmann 4 years, 5 months ago

Because it is the Obama administration doing it, this must be evil and part of his plan to convert the country into a fascist, socialist, progressive, racist, communist/Nazi, Maoist, Chicago-thug, Marxist, Kenyan, terrorist, Muslim/atheist authoritarian dictatorship who will force real Americans (also known as 'mericans) to bludgeon and eat puppies and kittens, just to survive.

Or maybe it is a good thing.

Hard to tell these days.........

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