- Al Gore’s climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- Army’s 3-D printed bombs will create ‘a whole new universe’ of deadly capabilities
- Hamas calls on Hezbollah to join in fight against Israel
- Senators to FIFA, others: Don’t reward Putin with the World Cup in 2018
- U.S. condemns Israeli shelling of shelter in Gaza
- Obamacare shoots premiums up by 88 percent in California
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Obama to Republicans: ‘Stop just hatin’ all the time’
- U.S. chemical sites vulnerable despite millions spent on security: Congress
- Driverless cars to hit the British streets by 2015
Feds: Medicaid fraud reached ‘epidemic levels’ in D.C. region
Question of the Day
Federal prosecutors said Medicaid fraud has reached “epidemic levels” in the nation’s capital, as they announced charges Thursday against 25 people accused of making claims based on fake symptoms and personal home care that was never performed.
U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said agents fanned out across the D.C. region to make arrests and seize six luxury vehicles and 49 bank accounts, capping off a multiyear investigation that prosecutors deemed the “largest health care fraud takedown” in the city’s history.
“An astonishing amount of money was stolen from the American taxpayer,” said Valerie Parlave, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Authorities are still tabulating the alleged damage, but said one Maryland woman netted $75 million she was not entitled to and that other schemers took in millions more.
The charges, outlined in five federal indictments and local fraud charges, raise new questions about how vulnerable taxpayer-funded health entitlements are to false claims and billing.
About half the states are debating whether to expand Medicaid under President Obama’s health care law, and conservative critics in those states say the federal-state entitlement program’s cost, inefficiency and susceptibility to fraud are reasons to be wary.
Mr. Machen said, that despite the widespread fraud, the problem lay with those engaged in criminal conduct, not with the District’s program itself.
During Thursday’s sweep, agents seized the large Maryland home of Florence Bikundi, who owned three home care agencies.
She had been barred from participating in federal health care programs after her nursing license was revoked in Virginia in 2000, but prosecutors accused her of raking in $75 million from the D.C. and Maryland Medicaid programs, anyway, using another name to get back into the game.
“The fraud was she should have never been in the program,” he said.
Prosecutors said personal health care in private homes is a burgeoning front in Medicaid fraud, and said there have been similar cases out of Miami and Detroit.
Other problems exposed Thursday included corrupt care providers who recruited patients to fake symptoms — walking with a cane and overstating their aches and pains, for example — so they could obtain a prescription for additional care, authorities said.
Prosecutors said those patients received cash payments in exchange for saying they had received home care services. The more fraudulent hours prescribed, the greater the kickback.
Providers then billed Medicaid, completing the fraud.
“They had it down to a science,” Mr. Machen said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- U.S. woman with Ebola is stable, improving, son says
- U.S. surgeon general is hesitant about green-lighting marijuana
- Senators to FIFA, others: Don't reward Putin with the World Cup in 2018
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich cruising to re-election: survey
- GOP seizes on Alison Lundergan Grimes' odd 'Iron Dome' comments
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
- Geraldo Rivera: Matt Drudge 'doing his best to stir up a civil war'
- Lois Lerner hated conservatives, new emails show
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- HURT: Impeaching Obama is a losing strategy for the GOP
- CARSON: Rudderless U.S. foreign policy
- Patent workers paid to exercise, shop, do chores: report
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Fla. mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone
- Senate overcomes first filibuster of Obama's border-spending bill
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world