91 Arrested For Medicare Fraud
October 6, 2012

Medicare Fraud Probe Leads To 91 Arrests In Seven Cities

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

A federal task force has arrested 91 people, including doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, as part of a widespread Medicare fraud probe, various media outlets reported on Thursday.

According to Reuters reporters David Ingram and David Morgan, the accused hail from seven different U.S. cities and allegedly billed the nation's senior-care health program for more than $430 million in false claims. It is the second such raid in the past six months, following a $450-plus million investigation back in May.

"Those charged included a group in Los Angeles that ferried patients for ambulance rides that were never medically necessary," said Los Angeles Times reporter Richard A. Serrano.

Federal law enforcement officials said that 16 people, including a trio of doctors and a licensed physical therapist, were among those arrested, and that the schemes cost the government agency a combined $53.8 million.

Serrano added that a dermatologist and psychologist were arrested in Chicago, and that arrests were also made in Baton Rouge, Brooklyn, Dallas, Houston, and Miami. The Chicago charges stem from "unneeded laser treatments and psychotherapy services," while the other indictments are linked to "more than $230 million in home healthcare fraud" and "more than $100 million in community healthcare schemes," he added.

In addition, Reuters reported that 33 arrests took place in Miami, where the accused allegedly billed the government for home health services and mental health care that was not provided, and that officials had discovered $42 million worth of improper claims originating from Houston-based Riverside General Hospital. That facility had previously been charged with $116 million in fraud, Ingram and Morgan said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told BBC News that the arrests "put criminals on notice that we are cracking down hard on people who want to steal from Medicare."

She added that in addition to the arrests, 30 other medical service providers had been suspended or subject to administrative action based on what the British news agency refers to as "credible allegations of fraud." Reuters added that some of those arrested also will face identity theft and money laundering charges.