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U.S. Charges 91 Over Millions in False Medicare Bills

Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. authorities charged 91 people with Medicare fraud in a nationwide crackdown, alleging schemes involving $429.2 million in false billing, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were among those who billed Medicare for unnecessary services and paid kickbacks to acquire patient information for fraudulent bills, Holder said today at a news conference in Washington.

“Today’s takedown underscores the fact that federal efforts to combat health-care fraud have never been more strategic, more comprehensive, or more effective,” Holder said today at a news conference in Washington.

The Obama administration has expanded the government’s pursuit of health-care fraud cases, including scams against Medicare, the program for the elderly and disabled. Since the inception of a strike force in 2007, more than 1,480 defendants who have collectively falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion have been charged.

The indictments were the result of an investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which includes the Justice Department, Health and Human Services Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Suspects were charged in cities including Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New York and Chicago.

Ambulance Billing

Those charged include 33 defendants in Miami, accused of bilking the Medicare program of $204.5 million in false billings for home-health care, mental health services and occupational therapy.

Another 16 people, including three doctors and a licensed physical therapist, were charged in Los Angeles with defrauding the program of $53.8 million. Schemes included $49.2 million in fraudulent billing for ambulance transportation, the largest such fraud prosecuted by the strike force, the Justice Department said.

Fifteen people, including a doctor and four chiropractors, were charged in Brooklyn in what prosecutors said was fraudulent billing of U.S. health-care programs that totaled $23.2 million.

The arrests around the country “represent another setback for criminals intent on lining their pockets from the Medicare Trust Fund,” said Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Department secretary.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Mattingly in Washington at pmattingly@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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