U.S. arrests 243 people in Medicare fraud bust

Jun 18, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT
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.
T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that its has arrested 243 associated with fraudulently billing Medicare. The fake bills totaled $712 million, and this bust marks the largest crackdown in health care fraud. Reuters reports:

Two-hundred forty-three people have been arrested across the United States and charged with submitting fake billing for Medicare that totaled $712 million, the Department of Justice said on Thursday.
Since 2007, as part of increased efforts to tackle Medicare fraud, federal authorities have charged nearly 2,100 people with falsely charging the Medicare program more than $6.5 billion, according to the Justice Department.
In Los Angeles, prosecutors say, one doctor collected $23 million for more than 1,000 power wheelchairs and other equipment his patients didn’t need--and he often didn’t even provide.
And in Michigan, another physician allegedly prescribed unnecessary narcotic painkillers in return for use of his patients’ IDs to generate additional false billings. When they tried to escape the scheme, authorities say, he threatened to cut off the medications, to which his patients were addicted.
It turns out that the government was checking on these and other doctors, nurses and providers of psychotherapy, home care, drugs, physical therapy and medical equipment. In the single largest crackdown in an eight-year campaign against health care fraud, the Justice Department charged 243 people Thursday with $712 million in false billings to Medicare--the medical insurance program for the elderly--and Medicaid, which provides services to the poor.