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Feds Charge 94 Suspects in Five-city Medicare Fraud Sweep

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 16, 2010

Ninety-four people in five cities—including more than seven physicians—have been charged in alleged schemes to submit $251 million in Medicare false claims, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.

The joint Medicare Fraud Strike Force operation involved 360 law enforcement officials from the FBI, HHS-Office of Inspector General, and other state and local agencies, who made 36 arrests in Miami; Baton Rouge, LA; Brooklyn, NY; Detroit; and Houston. More arrests are expected today and through the weekend as other warrants are executed.

"With today's arrests, we're putting would-be criminals on notice: Healthcare fraud is no longer a safe bet," Holder said in a media release. "The federal government is working aggressively—and collaboratively—to pursue healthcare criminals around the country and to bring these offenders to justice."

Charges unsealed today against the 94 defendants who are accused of various fraud-related offenses, include conspiracy to defraud Medicare, criminal false claims, violations of the anti-kickback laws, and money laundering.

The charges are based on a variety of fraud schemes involving physical therapy and occupational therapy, home healthcare, HIV infusion, and durable medical equipment.

The defendants charged today allegedly submitted false claims to Medicare for treatments that were medically unnecessary and oftentimes, never provided. In many cases, complaints allege that Medicare beneficiaries accepted cash kickbacks in return for allowing providers to submit forms saying they had received the non-existent or unneeded treatments that were collectively valued at more than $251 million.

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