The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today that it has charged 94 doctors, healthcare company owners, and executives with submitting more than $251 million in false claims to Medicare. The arrests spread across five different states in areas the federal government has deemed fraud hotspots. It was the largest federal crackdown on Medicare fraud since Medicare Fraud Strike Force activity began.
As part of the effort to help finance President Obama’s new health care plan, the Administration has displayed an unprecedented determination to crack down on fraud in the Medicare system. President Obama has earmarked hundreds of federal employees, many different agencies, and millions of dollars to prevent fraud in this industry, and recover the money withheld from the government through fraudulent practices.
One of the main tools the Administration is using in the fight against Medicare fraud is the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), whose mission is to “marshal significant resources across government to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs and crack down on the fraud perpetrators who are abusing the system.” HEAT has created multiple Medicare Fraud Strike Force Teams to target Medicare fraud perpetrators in some of the nation’s fraud hotspots, including: Miami, Houston, Brooklyn, Detroit, Baton Rouge, Tampa, and Los Angeles.
HEAT has also announced a series of Regional Health Care Fraud Prevention Summits which will take place over the next few months in Miami, New York, Boston, Las Vegas, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. The purpose of these summits is to bring together people from government and the medical industry to discuss innovative ways to prevent fraud, and train people in ways to detect ongoing healthcare fraud.
The DOJ announced the historic fraud crackdown on the same day as the Miami Summit to display its aggressive stance on punishing people defrauding the Medicare Program. The Strike Force Team spread across five states and made the following arrests: 24 people in Miami, 31 in Baton Rouge, 22 in Brooklyn, 11 in Detroit, and 4 in Houston.
Through the use of these high profile strike forces, summits, and arrests, the DOJ wants to put “would-be criminals on notice: Health care fraud is no longer a safe bet. The federal government is working aggressively – and collaboratively – to pursue health care criminals around the country and to bring these offenders to justice.”