Over the last several years with the ever-increasing deficit becoming more and more of a issue in the media, the federal and state governments have focused more on crimes that involve fraud, including fraud that involves government benefits. There may be no bigger crime involving fraud and government benefits at any time in our history than Medicare fraud.
Medicare is a government funded insurance program that assists approximately 46 million of the elderly and disabled with health care. One report estimated the total amount of Medicare fraud at $60 billion as of 2009. We have seen many cases where state and/or federal law enforcement officials have investigated and arrested doctors, medical center owners, executives and employees and patients for allegedly committing various versions of Medicare fraud. One of the most common methods of committing Medicare fraud occurs when a doctor or other employee sends a Medicare reimbursement form to the government for medical services or equipment that were unnecessary or never provided.
Recently the federal government announced that 91 people in eight different cities were charged with committing Medicare fraud in an amount totaling approximately $300 million. Among those charged were many doctors accused of seeking reimbursement for medical services that were never provided. As an example, one doctor is accused of billing Medicare for medical services allegedly provided to dead people.
The Attorney General’s office has indicated that Medicare fraud investigations are a critical part of President Obama’s healthcare reform. As the government spends money and tries to deal with the runaway deficit problem, attacking the billions of dollars lost through Medicare fraud appears to be an area ripe for attention from state and federal law enforcement officials.