Law enforcement authorities are stepping up an attack on health-care fraud they say costs taxpayers more than $60 billion each year, reports the Washington Post. The FBI, which conducted 2,400 investigations last year, said a fresh spate of cases is on the way. A new Justice Department Medicare Fraud Strike Force yesterday posted its third conviction this year after a trial in Miami. Prosecutors won a case against a Florida man whose pharmacies dispensed aerosol medications as well as other products that were not needed by patients as part of a long-running scheme to defraud the federal government.
The Department of Health and Human Services this month launched an initiative to track certain Medicare expenditures as they occur to stop the flow of money to sham businesses before criminals spend it. Medical equipment companies must certify that their executives have not run afoul of the law in order to participate in the billing program — one of several changes that could save more than $2 billion. “There are literally millions of ways to defraud the health-care system, and they devise new ones every day,” said Joseph L. Ford, associate deputy FBI director. The problem is found mostly in urban hotspots such as Los Angeles, Houston, and Miami, where a federal jury yesterday convicted Nelson Valdes of conspiracy to defraud Medicare in connection with drugs that were manufactured at two pharmacies he owned.