The U.S. Department of Justice issued a news release last week announcing that ninety-four people have been charged for their alleged participation in schemes to collectively submit more than $251 million in false claims to the Medicare program in the continuing operation of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in Miami; Baton Rouge, La.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Detroit; and Houston. The operation was announced as “the largest health care fraud takedown since Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations began in 2007.”
The joint DOJ-HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force typically operates independently of qui tam investigations and cases. The Strike Force is a multi-agency team of federal, state and local investigators designed to combat Medicare fraud through the use of Medicare data analysis techniques and an increased focus on community policing. More than 360 law enforcement agents from the FBI, HHS-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), multiple Medicaid Fraud Control Units, and other state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the operation.
According to the court documents, the defendants participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare for treatments that were medically unnecessary and oftentimes, never provided. In many cases, indictments and complaints allege that beneficiaries accepted cash kickbacks in return for allowing providers to submit forms saying they had received the treatments that, in reality, were unnecessary or never provided.