HEALTH

Task force takes down Medicare fraud schemes

BY Michael Johnsen

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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HEALTH

Former Clorox executive named CEO at Schiff Nutrition International

BY Michael Johnsen

SALT LAKE CITY — Schiff Nutrition International on Friday named Tarang Amin CEO, president and director, effective March 7. Amin will replace Bruce Wood, CEO, president and director, who is retiring.

“Bruce has provided invaluable leadership during his tenure. His focus on quality products, brand reputation and his passion for our industry has been instrumental in our success, and he leaves the company with a solid foundation for growth,” stated Eric Weider, Schiff chairman. “Tarang has a demonstrated track record of creating value and driving growth in his leadership roles at world-class consumer product companies, including Clorox and Procter & Gamble.”

Amin, 45, brings 20 years of consumer products experience to Schiff. Most recently he served as VP/GM of The Clorox Co., where he grew the litter, food and charcoal strategic business units from $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion in sales. In this position, he was responsible for the leadership and profit-and-loss of a brand portfolio that included Kingsford, Hidden Valley and Fresh Step. He also served in VP roles leading cleaning division marketing and global health and wellness.

Prior to joining Clorox, Amin worked for 12 years at Procter & Gamble, where he held management positions in beauty care and family care. Amin holds a bachelor’s degree in international policy and a master’s degree in business administration from Duke University.

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HEALTH

Time to ‘smah-ten up’

BY Rob Eder

“Smah-ten up, Ee-dah.” Loosely translated from deep “Mainer-ese,” that means, “smarten up, Eder.”


It’s a voice from my childhood, an old coach and counselor from summer camp, Tobias Woodworth. I called him Toby. He called me “Ee-dah.”


Stuck with me and all my other quasi-incorrigible New York City friends, Toby found himself saying, “smah-ten up!” an awful lot. It could mean anything from “you’ve got two strikes — protect the plate” to “put down that rock.”


I can still hear Toby’s voice whenever something just doesn’t seem right to me — like when I think about the current crosscurrents in health reform. I just want to tell this entire country to “smah-ten up” sometimes.


Take this week for example. As I write this column, here are some of the headlines that have appeared on DrugStoreNews.com:


  • Employees’ job worries trump health concerns. 
According to a recent survey of 9,000 employees from large and mid-sized companies, only 59% said that managing their health is a top priority, versus 69% in 2008. Two-thirds of employees said they would be willing to participate in employer-
sponsored lifestyle management programs if employers reduced premium costs for employees;


  • IRS reclassifies breast-feeding as medical expenditure. 
New mothers now can write off or use flexible spending account dollars to pay for breast pumps and breast-feeding products. Pediatricians recommend that new mothers breast-feed for at least the first full year of life for the health of the child. About half of women need to return to work after six months; and

  • 
FSA restrictions first piece of ObamaCare to be challenged. Congress in February introduced the 
Patients’ Freedom to Choose Act, which would restore FSA eligibility for OTC purchases.


If Congress spends the next couple of years fine-tuning health reform, we could significantly reduce the total cost by perhaps as much as one-third or more of its current price tag, create a whole lot of jobs that our economy clearly needs, improve the health of tens of millions of Americans, trim away at the national deficit and improve the profitability of just about every business in America.


How? Let’s look at the incentives that drive this whole broken healthcare system we have, from what we pay providers — and what we pay them for — to how patients access and use health care. Just “smah-ten up,” as Toby Woodworth would say.

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