Posted Jul 16, 2010 06:15 pm CDT
More than 360 agents participated today in a five-state sweep that had arrested, as of this morning, 36 of the 94 people indicted in a record-breaking $251 million Medicare fraud case.
The raid was announced in Miami, considered ground zero for Medicare fraud, by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, reports the Associated Press.
Emphasizing an effort to crack down on health care providers who cost taxpayers billions by filing false claims for federal reimbursement of bogus bills, the press conference was orchestrated to coincide with the nation’s first-ever health care fraud summit, according to the Miami Herald.
Today’s raid is the biggest takedown of Medicare fraud suspects since the federal program began in 1965, the newspaper says.
Of the 94 suspects, 33 are from the Miami area. The others are from Detroit, Houston, New York City and Baton Rouge, La.
The Herald describes the scope of Medicare fraud in the Miami area as astonishing:
Despite convictions, since 2005, of some 1,000 defendants in South Florida schemes totaling around $3 billion, mental health clinics in Florida, for example, submitted more than $421 billion in Medicare bills last year. That is four times the amount submitted in Texas and 635 times the amount submitted in Michigan, even though both of these other two states are also considered leading producers of health care rackets.
“This is like a game of whack a mole,” U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer of Miami tells the Herald. “The numbers are off the charts.”