Federal agents arrested several suspects and expected to roundup about 30 in three states Tuesday on charges related to Medicare fraud totaling $61 million as the government cracks down on waste under health care overhaul plans.
Authorities at the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement later in the day, said arrests were expected in Miami, Brooklyn and Detroit.
The arrests follow an investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike
Force, a partnership between the two federal agencies that started
nationally in May.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to hold a press
conference in New York later Tuesday to make the announcement.
Cleaning up an estimated $60 billion a year in Medicare fraud
will be a key part of President Barack Obama’s proposed health care overhaul. Both agencies have promised more money and manpower to fight the fraud.
The raids come a week after Sebelius’ department reported that
Miami-Dade County received more than half a billion dollars from
Medicare in home health care payments intended for the sickest
patients in 2008, which is more than the rest of the country
Indictments expected to be unsealed later Tuesday include charges that Florida scammers arranged for fake patients to bill for home health care, including homeless people and patients falsely listed as blind diabetics who billed for twice-daily visits by nurses to give them insulin shots.
In Detroit, suspects paid patient recruiters to find patients willing to feign symptoms to justify expensive testing, including nerve conduction studies, federal authorities said.
Two Brooklyn suspects billed Medicare for unnecessary medical
equipment, including expensive shoe inserts reserved for diabetes
patients, according to federal authorities.