Democracy Dies in Darkness


Feds allege $900 million in fake medical bills, kickbacks and other health care fraud

By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Matt Zapotosky

June 22, 2016 at 2:44 PM

The Justice Department announced Wednesday it had charged a record 301 people with schemes that defrauded government health programs by submitting $900 million in fraudulent health claims.

The announcement of the charges, called the largest takedown for Medicare and Medicaid fraud in history, was the result of a nationwide sweep that exposed alleged kickbacks, embezzlement and fake claims to the government programs that provide health care for the elderly and the poor. The allegations involved various kinds of fraud in diverse areas of health care, ranging from prescription drugs to home health care to physical therapy.

"They submitted dishonest claims, they charged excessive fees and they prescribed unnecessary drugs," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a news conference. "As this takedown should make clear, health-care fraud is not an abstract violation. It's not a benign offense. It's a serious crime."

The Justice Department called the sweep "unprecedented" in a press release. Last year, 243 people were charged with $712 million in false claims.

Among the alleged fraud uncovered:

More than 60 people were charged with fraud related to the prescription drug benefit portion of Medicare.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force began its work in 2007 and has charged more than 2,900 people with health-care fraud, who have billed Medicare for $8.9 billion.

Carolyn Johnson is a reporter covering the business of health. She previously wrote about science at The Boston Globe.

Matt Zapotosky covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post's National Security team.

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