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Houston, We Have a Medicare Fraud Problem

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By Caleb Groos on July 29, 2009 1:11 PM

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force struck again this morning, raiding businesses and arresting dozens on Medicare fraud related charges, primarily in the Houston area. In all, 32 people were indicted and 12 businesses were raided.

Medicare fraud is purposefully billing Medicare for services that were never received or provided, or that were provided by not medically necessarily.

According to the DOJ, those busted this morning were involved in false billing to Medicare for "arthritis kits," power wheelchairs and enteral feeding supplies. Many of the goods were never received by the patients in question. In some instances, companies allegedly billed Medicare for services they report received by patients who were dead at the time.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a joint operation of the Department of Justice (DOJ)and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and also involves the cooperation of other government agencies.

Today's raids which concentrated on the Houston area were part of the Strike Force's 4th phase of targeted attacks on fraudulent Medicare billing. Phases 1, 2 and 3 were in south Florida, Los Angeles and Detroit.

As reported by the AP, in May, the DOJ and HHS devoted millions of dollars and dozens of additional agents to the Strike Force. In the past two months, it has reportedly secured the indictment of 145 people and the recovery of $371 million in fraudulent billings.

While some schemes can involve patients receives benefits they do not need, or a kick-back from the company defrauding Medicare, often the patient gets nothing.

Here are some tips from the Department of Human Services about detecting and preventing Medicare fraud.

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