Criminal charges have been filed against 243 individuals across the United States after the Justice Department swept through the nation, cracking down on Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
Medicare is a federal program which provides healthcare benefits to senior citizens and Medicaid is yet another federal healthcare program, only it aims to provide health services for the nation’s poor.
The U.S. Department of Justice has charged 46 medical professionals, including doctors and nurses, with violations ranging from kickbacks and fraud to money laundering and identity theft, CNBC reported.
While not all of the cases are related to one another, they do all involve allegations of Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Over 40 percent of those indicted have been charged with false billing related to Medicare’s prescription drug component, Medicare Part D.
The widespread crackdown on healthcare fraud in the U.S. represents “the largest criminal health-care fraud takedown in the history of the Department of Justice,” according to a statement made by Attorney General Loretta Lynch as she announced the Medicare Fraud Strike Force’s recent success.
This action represents the largest criminal health-care fraud takedown in the history of the Department of Justice (…) The defendants include doctors, patient recruiters, home health-care providers, pharmacy owners and others (…) They billed for equipment that wasn’t provided, for care that wasn’t needed and services that weren’t rendered.
James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was quoted by CNBC as having said that every dollar stolen from the programs “is one too many.”
Health-care fraud is a crime that hurts all of us, and each dollar taken from programs that help the sick and the suffering is one too many.
Prosecutors allege that a single doctor in Los Angeles collected $23 million from over 1,000 power wheelchairs and other equipment which his patients not only didn’t need, but didn’t receive, The Washington Post reported.
In Michigan, a physician allegedly prescribed narcotic painkillers to patients who didn’t need them in return for the patient’s IDs which he used to generate additional false charges. As if this wasn’t enough criminal activity for one healthcare professional, he took it a step further by threatening to cut off the medications for those who attempted to escape his scheme — medications which his patients were addicted to.
Comey related some of the allegedly fraudulent schemes to ATMs “filled with taxpayers’ money.”
If you want to find criminals, you follow the money (…) In this case, we followed the money and found criminals who were attracted to doctor’s offices, to clinics, to hospitals, to nursing homes in search of what they viewed as an ATM, an ATM that was a freebie to them but is actually filled with taxpayers’ money.
What are your thoughts on this nationwide crackdown on healthcare fraud?