91 Arrested Nationwide in Medicare Fraud Sting

Federal investigators announced on Wednesday that 91 people in eight different cities were charged for attempting to steal millions of dollars from the Medicare system. This attempt is now being called by Attorney General Eric Holder the biggest take-down in Medicare task force history.

Scammers Attempt to Steal $295 Million from Medicare

There seems to be somewhat of a Medicare fraud epidemic going on around the country as medical personnel along with common thieves and even some beneficiaries take part in scams that are bilking the system out of millions, or possibly billions, each year.

On Wednesday, law enforcement participated in another successful Medicare scam take-down, this time involving 91 individuals throughout eight states. All in all, if they had been successful in their attempts, they would have stolen $295 million.

The cases included:

  • 45 defendants charged in Miami for $159 million in false billings for home health care, mental health services, durable medical equipment, physical therapy and HIV infusion.
  • One owner of a home health care business paid patients kickbacks to say they’d received care that they hadn’t.
  • Two people were charged in Houston for $62 million in false billing for home health care and durable medical equipment.

In one case, Medicare recipients were even threatened they would lose their housing if they did not participate in a scheme in Miami.

Efforts Ramped Up to Push Health Care Fraud Prosecutions

In the wake of an increase in not just Medicare fraud, but health care fraud on the whole, the Obama administration says it is ramping up its efforts to push for prosecutions, which are currently on pace this year to rise 85 percent over last year.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the charges are another benefit of new health care law, which created one of the strongest anti-fraud laws in history.

The law accomplished the following in relation to health care fraud:

  • Created longer prison terms for health fraud
  • Beefed up the strike force teams
  • Provided funding for new technology that allows investigators to see claims in real time. This helps them look for patterns before the bills are paid.

The hope is that increased efforts to prosecute scammers will help reduce fraud by letting them know there are true repercussions for their actions.