Obama officials tout record ‘takedown’ by Medicare fraud force

The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it has charged 107 individuals for nearly $500 million in false Medicare billings as a result of recent efforts against fraud. 

Officials praised the haul as the largest single "takedown" in the history of Medicare's anti-fraud force, which bridges the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

"Our ongoing fight against healthcare fraud has never been more coordinated and effective," Attorney General Eric Holder said.

"We are determined to bring to justice those who violate our laws and defraud the Medicare program for personal gain."

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The announcement could help strengthen the administration's credibility on anti-fraud efforts in government programs, traditionally a high priority for Republicans.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius emphasized that the 2010 healthcare law empowered the fraud "strike force" to stop payments to 52 fraud suspects as investigations proceed.

"Today's actions are another example of how the Affordable Care Act is helping the Obama administration fight fraud and strengthen the Medicare program," she said. 

The fraud schemes involved roughly $452 million in false billings to Medicare, allegedly for treatments that were "medically unnecessary and oftentimes never provided," a release stated.

Those charged included doctors, nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals.

"Health care fraud is not a victimless crime," said FBI Deputy Director Joyce.

"Every person who pays for health care benefits, every business that pays higher insurance costs to cover their employees, every taxpayer who funds Medicare — all are victims."

Since their inception in 2007, the "strike force" anti-fraud operations have brought charges against 1,330 people for allegedly billing Medicare for more than $4 billion in false claims.