Task force takes down Medicare fraud schemes

Anti-fraud Strike Force teams increase

WASHINGTON — The Medicare Fraud Strike Force on Thursday charged 111 defendants in nine cities — including doctors, nurses and healthcare company owners and executives — for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving more than $225 million in false billing. The operation marks the largest federal healthcare-fraud takedown.

“Over the last two years, our joint efforts have more than quadrupled the number of anti-fraud Strike Force teams operating in fraud hot spots around the country from two to nine, ... bringing hundreds of charges against criminals who had billed Medicare for hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Last year alone, our partnership recovered a record $4 billion on behalf of taxpayers. From 2008 to 2010, every dollar the federal government spent under its Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control programs averaged a return on investment of $6.80.”

Many of the cases involved bilking Medicare out of monies for durable medical equipment. False billings for home health care and prescription drugs also were prevalent.

Also on Thursday, the Department of Justice and HHS announced the expansion of Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations to two additional cities — Dallas and Chicago.

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