(CNSNews.com) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday announced the arrests of 107 people in seven different cities for involvement in $452 million worth of false Medicare billings – the “highest amount of alleged false Medicare billings involved in a single takedown in the strike force’s five-year history.”
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force – a joint initiative between the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services along with federal, state, and local investigators and nationwide law enforcement officials – arrested doctors, nurses, social workers, health care company owners and others and charged them with health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering and violations of the anti-kickback statutes.
Holder credited about 500 agents and investigators worldwide from state and local FBI offices, the “HHS Office of the Inspector General, and multiple Medicare fraud-control units,” for executing about 20 search warrants and arresting 91 of the defendants.
“I’m grateful to and proud of each one of them. Their actions underscore the Justice Department’s determination to move aggressively in bringing to justice those who would violate our laws and defraud the Medicare program for their personal gain,” Holder said.
“And their work is at the heart of this administration’s commitment to protecting the American people from all forms of health care fraud – which, as we’ve seen in far too many communities, can drive up health care costs and even threaten the strength and the integrity of our entire health care system,” he added.
The joint initiative between DoJ and HHS, known as the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, or HEAT, was launched three years ago in an attempt to “leverage the strength of federal, state and local partnerships in taking the fight against health care fraud to a new level.”
“A driving force behind HEAT’s success has been our criminal Medicare strike forces, which have charged more than 1,330 defendants with more than $4 billion in false filings. And I’m pleased to say that our investments in this work are yielding extraordinary returns,” Holder said.
“In fact, over the last three fiscal years, for every dollar that we have spent fighting against health care fraud, we have returned on average $7 to the U.S. Treasury, to the Medicare Trust Fund, and others,” he added.