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91 charged in Medicare fraud crackdown
Federal govt announces crackdown on Medicare fraud involving $295 million in false billing
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' A nationwide law enforcement crackdown has charged 91 people ' including doctors and other medical professionals ' with participating in Medicare fraud schemes involving $295 million in false billing.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday that 70 people were charged in indictments unsealed Tuesday and Wednesday and 21 others were charged earlier, beginning Aug. 24. Charges were filed in Baton Rouge, La.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston; Los Angeles and Miami.

At a news conference, the attorney general said that those arrested are "jeopardizing the integrity of our health care system." Sebelius called the law enforcement initiative "a powerful warning to those who would try to defraud taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries."

In Miami, federal authorities charged 45 defendants, including a doctor and a nurse, with participating in various fraud schemes involving $159 million.

In one of the schemes in Miami involving more than $50 million in false billings, defendants allegedly paid patient recruiters to refer ineligible beneficiaries to a mental health center and in some instances beneficiaries who were residents of halfway houses were allegedly threatened with eviction if they did not agree to visit the mental health center.

In Baton Rouge, La., a doctor, nurse and five other co-conspirators were charged with billing Medicare more than $19 million for skilled nursing and other home health services that were not necessary or never provided.

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