At least eight physicians, eight nurses, four physical therapists, and several healthcare company owners and executives were among the 111 people in nine cities who were charged Thursday in separate Medicare fraud investigations that federal investigators say were responsible for at least $225 million in false billings.
More than 700 law enforcement officials executed 16 search warrants in the round ups – the largest one-day sweep of its kind. Led by the federal Medicare Fraud Strike Force, law enforcement officials made arrests in Miami, Brooklyn, Houston, Los Angeles, Baton Rouge, Tampa, Detroit, Dallas, and Chicago, the Department of Justice and Health and Human Services said in a joint announcement.
"With this takedown, we have identified and shut down large-scale fraud schemes operating throughout the country, we have safeguarded precious taxpayer dollars, and we have helped to protect our nation's most essential healthcare programs, Medicare and Medicaid," Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference Thursday afternoon announcing the sweep.
Also Thursday, DOJ and HHS announced the expansion of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force to Dallas and Chicago.
"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 -- with the latest additions Chicago and Dallas -- bringing hundreds of charges against criminals who had billed Medicare for hundreds of millions of dollars," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "Last year alone, our partnership recovered a record $4 billion on behalf of taxpayers. From 2008-2010, every dollar the Federal Government spent under its Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control programs averaged a return on investment of $6.80."