KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

107 Charged In Medicare Fraud Busts, Scams Totaled $452M

Federal authorities rounded up doctors, nurses and even social workers in what they called "a national takedown" of medical professionals who allegedly bilked Medicare out of nearly half a billion dollars. 

Reuters: U.S. Charges More Than 100 For Medicare Fraud Schemes
U.S. authorities have charged 107 people, including doctors and nurses, for trying to defraud the federal Medicare healthcare program for the elderly and disabled of about $452 million, the biggest Medicare fraud sweep to date, the Obama administration said on Wednesday. At least 91 people were arrested in Miami; Houston; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and four other cities on a variety of charges: from submitting false billing for home healthcare, mental health services, HIV infusions and physical therapy to money laundering and receiving kickbacks (Pelofsky, 5/2).

Los Angeles Times: 107 Charged In Medicare Fraud Crackdown
Doctors, nurses and social workers from across the country, 107 in all, were charged in what federal officials in Washington called a "nationwide takedown" of medical professionals accused of fraudulently billing Medicare out of nearly half a billion dollars (Serrano, 5/2).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: More Than 100 Charged In Massive Medicare Fraud Busts In 7 Cities In Scams Totaling $452 Mil
It was the latest in a string of major arrests in the past two years as authorities have targeted fraud that's believed to cost the government between $60 billion and $90 billion each year. Stopping Medicare's budget from hemorrhaging that money will be key to paying for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul (5/2).

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Charges 107 With Defrauding Medicare
Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that charges were being brought against defendants in seven cities, including doctors and nurses, for seeking to defraud the federal health program for the elderly and disabled. At least 83 of the defendants were arrested Wednesday morning, officials said (Radnofsky, 5/2).

CBS News: Feds Charge 107 People In $452 Million Medicare Fraud Crackdown
In the biggest crackdown of Medicare fraud in history, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday that the Medicare Fraud Strike Force had uncovered $452 million dollars worth of false billings in seven cities across the nation. More than 100 people have been arrested in relation to the fraud, including doctors, nurses and social workers (Dore, 5/2).

Politico Pro: Holder Details Medicare Fraud 'Takedown'
Federal authorities have arrested more than 100 health care providers suspected of Medicare fraud, money laundering and accepting kickbacks, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday, calling the sweep the largest single "takedown" in the history of his agency's Medicare Fraud Strike Force. The 107 individuals in seven cities, including doctors, nurses and other health care providers, fraudulently billed about $452 million in Medicare claims, Holder told reporters at a press conference at DOJ headquarters (Cheney, 5/2).

The Hill: Obama Officials Tout Record 'Takedown' By Medicare Fraud Force
The announcement could help strengthen the administration's credibility on anti-fraud efforts in government programs, traditionally a high priority for Republicans. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius emphasized that the 2010 healthcare law empowered the fraud "strike force" to stop payments to 52 fraud suspects as investigations proceed (Viebeck, 5/2).

In related news -

Modern Healthcare: Senators Ask Providers To Weigh In On Fraud Prevention
A bipartisan group of six lawmakers from the Senate Finance Committee issued an open letter to healthcare providers, payers and patients seeking input on better ways to prevent waste and fraud in healthcare, including ideas on improving the current audit system for alleged overpayments. The letter highlights estimates that between $20 billion and $100 billion a year are lost to fraud and misspending in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs (Carlson, 5/2).

The Hill: Senators Solicit Ideas From Health Care Industry On Fighting Fraud
The bipartisan group, led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), published an open letter to the healthcare community asking for "suggestions and solutions" to address waste, fraud and abuse in the systems (Viebeck, 5/2).

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