DoJ, HHS beef up Medicare fraud strike force

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After an attempt by 30 people to submit over $61 million in false Medicare claims, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) have teamed up to augment current task force operations under the Healthcare Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (H.E.A.T.).

The joint DoJ-HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a team of federal, state and local investigators formed to target criminal and fraudulent activity within the Medicare program, according to HHS.

The 30 physicians, business owners and executives indicted were arrested on charges that dealt with conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, money laundering, creating false criminal claims and statements and receiving kickbacks, said the agency.

Twenty-five of the the arrests were made in Miami, four in Detroit and one in Brooklyn, N.Y. and the task force has expanded its operations to three other locations: Brooklyn, N.Y., Tampa, Fla., and Baton Rouge, La.

“Along with teams already operating in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston and Detroit, these strike force operations will allow us to concentrate our agents and resources on the criminal hubs where we know a significant share of fraud occurs," said Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary.

According to the HHS, since the onset of these strike force operations in March 2007, 460 individuals and organizations have been indicted on charges related to the false billing of the Medicare program. These charges collectively totalled over $1 billion, according to HHS.

Strike force teams are lead by a federal prosecutor from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and an agent from the FBI and HHS Office of Inspector General.