Recent Crackdown on Health Care Fraud in Florida Netting Significant Arrests
On behalf of Mark L. Horwitz
Federal and state authorities are focused on preventing healthcare fraud and punishing violations.
Health care fraud has been an issue in Florida for years. In 2010, the state led the nation in diverted prescription pain medication. This led to numerous calls for reforms of "pill mills." After strident efforts by law enforcement authorities, by 2014 Florida did not have any medical facilities in the top 100 pill dispensaries in the nation, according to the state's attorney general.
Now, officials are targeting Medicare and insurance fraud. In November, for example, the owner of two Miami-area healthcare companies was sentenced to over seven years in prison for fraudulently taking $74 million in Medicare benefits. Eight residents of Dade County were charged with healthcare fraud. And federal authorities raided Florida Healthcare Plus, charging 11 owners and employees with healthcare fraud that allegedly improperly obtained Medicare and Medicaid payments worth $25 million. These just a few examples of recent healthcare fraud charges in the state, which occur with regularity.
As demonstrated by these instances, healthcare fraud is a large concern for both state and federal authorities. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine cities across the country, and has charged over 2,000 of defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion. The Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are also working to decrease fraud throughout the country. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force was created in 2007 as a cooperative effort between the Department of Justice and HHS.
Experienced representation can help
In the last three years, the federal government estimates it has recovered over $10 billion in improperly billed Medicare payments. In addition, as part of the Affordable Care Act, federal sentencing guidelines have increased prison time and penalties by as much as one-and-a-half for crimes involving over $1 million.
Medicare and Medicaid fraud is a problem. However, one does not have to be a criminal, or have criminal intent, to run afoul of complicated healthcare billing codes. Honest mistakes can bring state and federal scrutiny regarding billing codes. Patients may not remember undergoing certain procedures, which can give the false impression of fraud. Whatever the charges, there may be a perfectly valid explanation for a mistake, apparent inaccuracy or pattern of improper billing.
Health care providers who are under investigation have a lot to lose, including their freedom. If you are currently under investigation for healthcare fraud, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney familiar with healthcare fraud charges in Florida and all other states. The defense investigation seeks facts which may be overlooked or ignored by government agents. A thorough defense investigation can develop facts which when properly presented, may convince prosecutors not to file a criminal case. If the government files a criminal case, the Law Offices of Horwitz & Citro, P.A., will then vigorously defend the charges in the United States District Courts in Florida or in any other state.