The government conducted a nationwide crackdown on people suspected of health care fraud this week. In total, the Department of Justice charged 89 people across 8 cities, including Miami, with health care fraud. This marks the sixth nationwide crackdown conducted by the government since 2010. The 89 people were accused of filing fraudulent claims to the tune of $223 million. The U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, took the opportunity to suggest that upcoming fiscal cutbacks could lead to a reduction in these types of operations. According to Mr. Holder, the sequestration cuts will have cost the DOJ $1.6 billion in funding by September 30.
The government first formed the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in 2007. Since that time, the law enforcement group has charged more than 1,500 people with Medicare fraud and related crimes. The group claims that those charged have filed more than $5 billion in fraudulent claims. Those charged include doctors, therapists, administrators and countless others involved in the health care industry.
In addition to actions in Miami, the crackdown targeted fraudulent claims in Los Angeles, Detroit and New York. Every claim filed with Medicare that is deemed fraudulent could subject the claimant to harsh criminal penalties. The increased attention on health care fraud has coincided with a dramatic increase in the penalties sought for white collar criminals. Medicare fraud has led to record-breaking criminal sentences and massive fines. Florida, in particular, has been identified as the health care fraud capital of the country.
Source: Reuters, "U.S. Charges 89 people with healthcare fraud," by Susan Heavey and David Morgan, 14 May 2013