Federal agents arrest 30 on charges of Medicare fraud

Miami HeraldDecember 15, 2009 

Federal agents Tuesday arrested about 30 doctors, nurses and healthcare operators in Miami, Detroit and New York on charges of submitting tens of millions of dollars in bogus bills to the taxpayer-funded Medicare program.

The indictments represented yet another Justice Department crackdown on Miami, dubbed the nation's Medicare fraud capital. Justice officials and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference in New York to spotlight the arrests and to announce the expansion of a federal Medicare fraud strike force to Tampa, Brooklyn and Baton Rouge.

The strike force, launched in Miami in March 2007, also operates in Los Angeles, Detroit and Houston — other major metropolitan areas plagued by phony Medicare claims for medical equipment, HIV infusion services, physical therapy and home healthcare.

Since 2007, Justice Department prosecutors with the strike force have filed criminal charges involving more than $1 billion in fraudulent Medicare claims in Miami and three other cities, records show.

But South Florida, especially Miami-Dade, is at the root of the crisis. The U.S. attorney's office in Miami, coupled with the strike force, has prosecuted more than 900 defendants charged with submitting more than $2.5 billion in phony Medicare claims since 2005, according to records.

Tuesday's arrests follow a recent government report issued by the HHS Office of Inspector General that detailed rampant Medicare scams in the home healthcare field in Miami-Dade.

Medicare paid $520 million to Miami-Dade home healthcare agencies for treating diabetic patients, more than what the agency spent in the rest of the country, investigators found.

Read more at MiamiHerald.com

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