Sunday, May 6, 2012

Massive Medicare Fraud

Well, the boys at the Justice Department finally got one right. They have charged 107 people, including doctors and nurses, for trying to defraud the federal Medicare healthcare program for the elderly and disabled of about $452 million, the biggest Medicare fraud sweep to date.

91 people have been arrested in Miami; Houston; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and four other cities on a variety of charges: from submitting false billing for home healthcare, mental health services, HIV infusions and physical therapy to money laundering and receiving kickbacks. Justice Department and Health and Human Services Department officials were unable to say how much Medicare actually paid out, but a review of 34 complaints and indictments found that authorities were seeking to recover at least $59.5 million of allegedly ill-gotten gains.

The administration has been pushing to squeeze out fraud from federal programs like Medicare as part of a broader attempt to stem soaring healthcare costs, pointing out that fraud can contribute to rising prices for services -gee, 'ya think? I'm glad to see them going after this problem -but I have to wonder what took so long (and is this because it is an electon year I wonder?).

It is the single largest Medicare billing fraud sweep by the Justice Department's special task force in its five-year history. In September, they charged 91 people in connection with a variety of schemes aimed at bilking Medicare out of $295 million.

The FBI said it is investigating more than 2,600 cases of healthcare fraud with more than 500 agents and analysts. Since March 2007, the Justice Department said, it has charged more than 1,300 people for falsely billing Medicare more than $4 billion.

Naturally, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to use the arrests to defend Obama's controversial healthcare law passed in 2010, arguing that additional resources provided under the law helped authorities root out fraud. Well, I guess you have to expect that kind of rhetoric.

That's OK. As far as I am concerned this is something they can play politics with all day long -just so long as they go after the people who defraud the system and suck millions and billions of our tax dollars away from Senior Citizens and the Disabled -who desperately need a viable Medicare program.

OK, let's lighten the mood. Here is a classic Abbott & Costello routine -I loved these guys...

Live Long and Prosper....

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