Authorities arrest 243 people in $712 million Medicare fraud

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Justice Department Arrests 243 Medicare Fraud Suspects


The U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday that 243 people have been arrested across the country, charged with submitting fake billing for Medicare, a government healthcare program, that totaled $712 million.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch described the arrests as the largest criminal health care fraud takedown in the history of the Justice Department.

6 PHOTOS
Medicare Fraud
See Gallery
Authorities arrest 243 people in $712 million Medicare fraud
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, center, with Health and Human Service (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell, left, and FBI Director James Comey, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Thursday, June 18, 2015. The government says 243 people have been charged in health care fraud sweeps around the country. That includes doctors, nurses and pharmacy owners accused of bilking Medicare and Medicaid. Combining all the cases, fraudulent billings allegedly totaled some $712 million. Lynch says the defendants billed for equipment that wasn't provided, care that wasn't needed, and services that weren't rendered. While the individual cases may be unrelated, law enforcement agencies often coordinate the announcement of health fraud charges and arrests to send a message to fraudsters and the general public alike. Health care fraud costs tens of billions of dollars annually. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, center, walks out with Health and Human Service (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell, left, and FBI Director James Comey, right, for a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Thursday, June 18, 2015. The government says 243 people have been charged in health care fraud sweeps around the country. That includes doctors, nurses and pharmacy owners accused of bilking Medicare and Medicaid. Combining all the cases, fraudulent billings allegedly totaled some $712 million. Lynch says the defendants billed for equipment that wasn't provided, care that wasn't needed, and services that weren't rendered. While the individual cases may be unrelated, law enforcement agencies often coordinate the announcement of health fraud charges and arrests to send a message to fraudsters and the general public alike. Health care fraud costs tens of billions of dollars annually. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Leslie R. Caldwell speaks about a national effort to crack down on Medicare fraud during a press conference with (L-R) Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Center for Program Integrity, HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson and Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Department of Justice on June 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Federal law enforcement agencies joined forces to track down nearly $712 million in Medicare fraud. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks about a national effort to crack down on Medicare fraud during a press conference at the Department of Justice on June 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Federal law enforcement agencies joined forces to track down nearly $712 million in Medicare fraud. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: FBI Director James B. Comey speaks about a national effort to crack down on Medicare fraud during a press conference at the Department of Justice on June 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Federal law enforcement agencies joined forces to track down nearly $712 million in Medicare fraud. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Attorney General Loretta Lynch (C) speaks about a national effort to crack down on Medicare fraud accompanied by (L-R) Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Center for Program Integrity, HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, FBI Director James B. Comey, and Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Leslie R. Caldwell during a press conference at the Department of Justice on June 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Federal law enforcement agencies joined forces to track down nearly $712 million in Medicare fraud. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Those arrested included 46 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals. The charges are based on a variety of alleged fraud schemes, the government said, including submitting claims to Medicare and Medicaid, the healthcare program for low-income individuals, for treatments that were medically unnecessary and often never provided.

The nationwide sweep, led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, involved about 900 law enforcement officials. It's the largest both in terms of the number of those charged and the amount of money lost.

Many of the arrests were in Florida, long an epicenter of Medicare fraud. In Miami, 73 defendants were charged with offenses involving approximately $263 million in false billings.

One mental health facility there billed close to $64 million for psychotherapy sessions that were nothing more than moving patients to different locations, Lynch said in a press conference.

Other cities involved include Houston, Dallas and McAllen, Texas; Los Angeles; Detroit; Tampa; Brooklyn, New York; and New Orleans.

One case in Michigan involved a doctor who prescribed unnecessary narcotics in exchange for patients' identification information, which was used to generate false billings. Patients then became deeply addicted to the prescription narcotics and were bound to the scheme as long as they wanted to keep their access to the drugs.

"In the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue our focus on preventing wrongdoing and prosecuting those whose criminal activity drives up medical costs and jeopardizes a system that our citizens trust with their lives," Lynch said.

Since 2007, as part of increased efforts to tackle Medicare fraud, federal authorities have charged nearly 2,100 people with falsely billing the Medicare program more than $6.5 billion, according to the Justice Dept. Thursday's arrests bring that total to over 2,300 people who have billed over $7 billion.

More on AOL.com:
Brian Williams will return to NBC but not as 'Nightly News' anchor
Ellen Pao owes Kleiner Perkins $276,000 for lawsuit costs: judge
Did Donald Trump hire actors at his announcement?

Read Full Story

People are Reading