Medicare Fraud Roundup|Snares 243 Nationwide

     HOUSTON (CN) – Federal prosecutors Thursday charged 243 people in 17 states with defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of $712 million, in a national roundup that may cost many doctors their licenses.
     Sixteen people were charged in South Texas, in what prosecutors called the largest “national takedown” since the Medicare Fraud Strike Force was created in 2009.
     Numerous doctors’ licenses have been suspended, the Department of Justice said.
     Forty-six doctors, nurses and “other medical professionals” are among the 243 people charged with participating in making $712 million in false claims.
     The allegations in South Texas involve $773,000 in fraudulent claims for children’s therapy services; a $3 million kickback scam for referrals to a personal assistance service; a medical equipment company that sent $4.8 million in bogus bills to Texas Medicaid; and a clinic owner who filed claims for pelvic exams and pap smears done by an unlicensed practitioner.
     All 16 South Texas defendants have been arraigned in federal courts in Brownsville, McAllen and Laredo. They are a drop in a very big bucket of those charged with healthcare fraud since 2009.
     “Nearly 900 individuals have been charged in national takedown operations, which have involved more than $2.5 billion in fraudulent billings,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

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