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Hundreds of medical professionals arrested for scamming millions from Medicare

Thursday, February 24, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: doctors, medical fraud, health news

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(NaturalNews) Representing the largest medical fraud case in history, federal authorities have arrested more than 100 doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and other medical professionals for allegedly swindling hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal Medicare program. The violators, who were busted in nine different U.S. cities, are said to have fraudulently billed Medicare for sometimes millions of dollars for simple procedures, and even for procedures they never even performed.

In Brooklyn, N.Y., for instance, federal agents targeted three physical therapy clinics for scamming at least $50 million from Medicare over the past two years. The clinics were paying phony patients to go along with being falsely diagnosed for conditions they did not have, and come to fake appointments via costly ambulance services.

In Detroit, Mich., a podiatrist was apprehended for billing Medicare roughly $700,000 for a procedure that was the equivalent of a toenail clipping. Another incident in Brooklyn, N.Y., involved a proctologist who billed Medicare $6.5 million for hemorrhoid removals, most of which he allegedly never even performed. And in Miami, Fla., two doctors and a handful of nurses were indicted for bilking $25 million from Medicare for phony prescriptions.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Medicare fraud cost U.S. taxpayers more than $24 billion in 2009 alone. Daniel Levinson, HHS inspector General, told the U.S. Congress recently that more than 1,300 investigations in the past year alone have led to 500 Medicare fraud convictions that totaled more than $3 billion.

"Health care fraud schemes commonly include billing for services that were not provided or were not medically necessary, purposely billing for a higher level of service than what was provided, misreporting costs or other data to increase payments, paying kickbacks, and/or stealing providers' or beneficiaries' identities," Levinson said to Congress.

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