The number seven has long been considered to be lucky, especially for the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which recently made its seventh most notable crackdown since launched in 2007. (Notice the number of sevens?) An article in The Wall Street Journal reports that in this seventh major bust, 90 people across the country were charged with generating approximately $260 million fraudulent Medicare billings. (My guess is that these defendants are not feeling so lucky at the moment.)
The story states that raids were conducted from Miami to Los Angeles, affecting doctors who allegedly received kickbacks for referring Medicare patients to companies selling durable medical equipment. The bust also found additional suspects in Tampa who supposedly billed the benefits program for services provided to beneficiaries who lived 280 miles away in Miami-Dade County.
One doctor from New York was noted as allegedly billing for services he did not provide. He is accused of submitting $85 million in bogus claims to Medicare over a two-year period and authorities say he received $7 million. Six days after this doctor was interviewed by investigators, he allegedly wired $2 million to his native country of Pakistan. (He is currently being held without bail because he is considered to be a flight risk.) Another doctor was arrested in Hollywood for purportedly prescribing unnecessary medical equipment and home health services to Medicare beneficiaries.
Congratulations to the Medicare Fraud Strike Force for their commitment to protect our nation’s senior citizens against fraud. Over the past seven years, this joint effort between the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services has charged 1,900 people who have allegedly billed $6 billion to the benefits program. (As always, remember that those charged in this case are considered innocent until proven guilty. The fate of these 90 people will be up to the judicial system to determine if they have run out of luck.)