KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Care Fraud, Prescription Theft Lead To Significant Losses

ABC News: "A four month 'Nightline' investigation into Medicare fraud makes one thing perfectly clear: this is a crime that pays and pays and pays. The federal government admits that a staggering $60 billion is stolen from tax payers through Medicare scams every year. Some experts believe the number is more than twice that. Fraudulent pharmacies, clinics and medical supply companies seem to pop up like mushrooms in South Florida, the area widely considered to be ground zero in the fight against a crime that requires little training and involves few risks" (McFadden and Karamehmedovic, 3/17).

The Associated Press/WLAJ, an ABC station in Lansing, Mich., reports on a Medicaid fraud case: "A Florida woman who authorities say fraudulently filed more than $3.3 million in Medicaid claims in Michigan from 2007 to 2009 has been arrested and charged with fraud and racketeering. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox says 56-year-old Deborah D'Anna was arrested Tuesday at her home in Ocala. She was being held pending extradition and faces 25 Medicaid fraud counts and one racketeering charge" (3/17).

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports on another kind of health-related crime. "The $75 million heist at a pharmaceutical warehouse in Connecticut this week was just the most audacious example of a growing phenomenon: Thieves are stealing large quantities of prescription drugs for resale on the black market. Pharmaceutical heists in the U.S. have quadrupled since 2006, a coalition of industry and law enforcement estimates." Experts say reasons range from "spotty security" to the high costs of drugs that make the crime lucrative. "While some stolen pills wind up overseas, others show up on pharmacy shelves in the U.S. with fake labels and lot numbers. The theft from an Eli Lilly & Co. warehouse early Sunday is the largest of its kind on record and attests to the growing sophistication of those who pull off such crimes. ... Last year, roughly $184 million in pharmaceuticals were stolen in the U.S., up from $96.6 million the year before" (Perrone, 3/17).

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