Authorities recently announced the arrest of more than 100 people on charges of West Palm Beach Medicare fraud.
Our West Palm Beach defense attorneys understand that arrests were made all over the state, though nearly 60 of them were in South Florida. The total cost of the estimated losses topped an eye-popping $450 million across seven cities.
All of the Medicare fraud suspects are being prosecuted in federal court. The Florida Attorney General’s Office has a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which has been operational since 1994. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has been quoted as saying that the most common Medicaid and Medicare fraud operations in Florida have to do with health care providers – dentists, clinics and doctors – billing or over-billing the government-funded social health care service for products, tests or services that either aren’t necessary or were never performed.
An example might be what is called a “phantom bill,” which is when a doctor may bill for a service that never happened, or “up-coding,” which is when a doctor bills more for a test or service than it’s worth. This would also include cases in which health care providers conduct a far more expensive test than what’s necessary, when a cheaper test will suffice.
While these cases can be prosecuted at the state level, they can also be prosecuted federally as well. The first press briefing for this operation, for example, was held in Washington by officials with the U.S. Justice Department.
Medicare, which is a federally-subsidized program used to provide care for seniors, elderly and disabled, reportedly pays out billions of dollars annually in fraudulent claims. South Florida, namely Broward and West Palm Beach, have a reputation for being active hubs of this crime.
Some of the examples of those arrested included:
-Nine people at a number of mental illness clinics who allegedly submitted phony bills between 2004 and 2011. The bills were sent for group therapy sessions that either were never offered or would not have benefited the patients, some of whom suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, according to the government.
-A former social worker who allegedly assisted those without citizenship in the U.S. to fill out forms saying they had a mental illness so they could avoid taking the citizenship test.
-Owners of medical clinics in Miami-Dade and St. Lucie counties who reportedly charged for HIV therapies and services that they either didn’t provide or weren’t beneficial.
-Sixteen people who worked for a home health care company, who reportedly accepted kickbacks from recruiters and patients.
These are serious charges, which could result in lengthy prison sentences, revocation of health care and medical licenses and an irreparably damaged reputation. That’s why it’s so important for individuals who are charged with Medicare fraud in West Palm Beach to contact a law firm with experience in handling West Palm Beach fraud cases.
If you are facing criminal charges in Broward or Palm Beach counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.