Almost 100 people were arrested last week for defrauding Medicare. I’m sure this is just a drop in the bucket of Medicare scams across the country. Everyone knows that Medicare poses perhaps the greatest risk to our country’s fiscal survival, and if we could root out more of these crooks it would certainly help our solvency problems. Here are excerpts from an Associated Press article on the arrests:
Elderly Russian immigrants lined up to take kickbacks from the backroom of a Brooklyn clinic. Claims flooded in from Miami for HIV treatments that never occurred. One professional patient was named in nearly 4,000 false Medicare claims.
Authorities said busts carried out this week in Miami, New York City, Detroit, Houston and Baton Rouge, La., were the largest Medicare fraud takedown in history — part of a massive overhaul in the way federal officials are preventing and prosecuting the crimes.
In all, 94 people — including several doctors and nurses — were charged Friday in scams totaling $251 million. Federal authorities, while touting the operation, cautioned the cases represent only a fraction of the estimated $60 billion to $90 billion in Medicare fraud absorbed by taxpayers each year.
For the first time federal officials have the power to overhaul the system under Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which gives them authority to stop paying a provider they suspect is fraudulent. Critics have complained the current process did nothing more than rubber-stamp payments to fraudulent providers.
“That world is coming to an end,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told The Associated Press after speaking at a health care fraud prevention summit in Miami. “We’ve got new ways to go after folks that we’ve never had before.”
Cleaning up Medicare fraud will be key to paying for President Barack Obama’s proposed health care overhaul. Federal officials have allocated more money and manpower to fight fraud, setting up strike forces in seven cities with a plan to expand to a dozen more. So far, the operations are responsible for more than 720 indictments that collectively billed the Medicare program more than $1.6 billion.