Earlier this month, federal officials arrested 89 people in Miami, Detroit, Tampa, Houston, New York and Los Angeles and charged them with health care fraud. The action was a coordinated effort involving the FBI, Postal Inspectors, IRS, Department of Health and Human Services and local officials. Historically, many of these cases come to light because of whistleblowers.
Medicare and Medicaid relies on tax dollars to pay benefits. If you defraud the program, you are committing a federal crime. Some health care professionals intentionally bill for services not provided or prescribe unnecessary procedures simply to get more money from these programs. Since patients often don’t know what is going on, catching these criminals is difficult without someone on the inside – whistleblowers.
The current action resulting in 89 arrests involves criminal charges but there will likely be massive civil penalties as well. That is important for both taxpayers and whistleblowers. Under the federal false claims act, whistleblowers who come forward with confidential information are entitled to a cash award based on the amount recovered on behalf of the government. The usual award is 20 to 25%. With healthcare fraud costing billions annually, the amount of money available for whistleblowers is staggering.
What is particularly disturbing about the current crackdown is that many of the people arrested were doctors. While overbilling by clinics and home health care agency fraud is certainly a problem, evidently even physicians are trying to cash in on the racket.
In commenting on the arrests, Miami U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer said, “Health care fraud continues to be a drain on scarce Medicare dollars, as unscrupulous individuals insist on using the Medicare Trust Fund as their private ATMs. We are undaunted and remain committed in our resolve to help preserve and protect Medicare for those who need it – the sick, the elderly and the poor.”
If you have inside, non public information about health care fraud involving state or federal programs, give us a call. We represent whistleblowers and help them collect the largest award possible. More importantly, we help them put an end to fraud and patient abuse. (While some people think that health care fraud is simply an economic crime, prescribing unnecessary treatment or selling counterfeit drugs made in uninspected labs is dangerous.
If you have information about fraud against the government or misuse of tax dollars, give us a call. Our false claims lawyers represent whistleblowers in a wide variety of cases. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731 (direct). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Maine and San Francisco, California. Services available in many jurisdictions.
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