(WASHINGTON) — Government officials Wednesday confirmed the arrests of more than 100 medical professionals in a nationwide crackdown on Medicare fraud. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged 107 individuals around the country with about $452 million in false billings. Federal officials call that dollar amount the largest Medicare fraud bust in the five-year history of the Force.
Suspects were rounded up in seven different cities Tuesday, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and Houston.
“The defendants charged include doctors, nurses, social workers, health care company owners and others, who are accused of a range of serious offenses,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday at a news conference.
Federal authorities allege that medical service companies billed Medicare for services that were often unnecessary or never provided.
“We have charged owners and operators of four ambulance and private ambulance companies with billing Medicare for millions of dollars worth of phony or unnecessary ambulance rides,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said of the individuals charged in Texas.
In Baton Rouge, La., Breuer says seven defendants have been charged with running two community mental health clinics that submitted $225 million in fraudulent Medicare claims.
“These defendants allegedly recruited elderly, drug-addicted and mentally ill patients from nursing homes and homeless shelters in order to submit false claims on their behalf.”
Holder touted the takedown as a result of the administration’s commitment to keeping health care costs low for American taxpayers.
“The results war are announcing today are at the heart of an adminstration-wide commitment to protecting American taxpayers from health care fraud, which can drive up costs and threaten the strength and integrity of our health care system,” he said, adding, “As today’s takedown reflects, our ongoing fight against health care fraud has never been more coordinated and effective.”
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged more than 1,330 individuals for Medicare fraud totaling $4 billion since the initiative began in 2007.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire