Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced Thursday what they described as the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.
The take-down. according to a release from the Justice Department, involving 412 charged defendants across 41 federal districts, including over 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving over $1.3 billion in false billings.
According to Justice Department figures, 80 of those defendants were in South Florida, long considered to be a fraud epicenter.According to court documents, the defendants allegedly participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE for treatments that were medically unnecessary and often never provided. In many cases, investigators say patient recruiters, beneficiaries and other co-conspirators were allegedly paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, so that the providers could then submit fraudulent bills to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary or never performed.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.