Miami Medicare fraud made headline news again this week when at least 100 South Floridians were named among the 300 medical professionals suspected and arrested on various counts of Medicare fraud, nationwide. At least 65 of those 100 Floridians were in Miami—a city considered to be the “capital of healthcare corruption.” All of the individuals charged in the arrest face years of imprisonment. And for those with professional licenses, the loss of their livelihood.
White Collar Takedowns Increase
The June 22 arrests serve as another example of the increasingly aggressive posture of the United States Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Offices throughout the nation in pursuing white collar crimes. The record breaking mass Medicare fraud arrest, as well as the ongoing government investigations into suspects revealed in the Panama Papers, signals that this may just be the tip of an iceberg.
But, Medicare fraud will continue in the U.S. based on the sheer amount of money involved. As a bank robber once replied when asked why he robbed the bank, he stated, “because that’s where the money is.” With the enormous amount of money spent on Medicare, along with the difficulty government agencies have in monitoring who is being paid, means that such crimes will continue.
Medicare Fraud Trends Evolve
In a statement to the media, U.S. Attorney General Lynch highlighted new Medicare fraud schemes that are trending. Among them is the use of stolen identities of licensed doctors to carry out illegal Medicare prescribing and billing schemes. This type of action could destroy the career of an innocent doctor, who may not have been responsible for what was being done in his or her name. And such cases, which are very sophisticated, require a great amount of white collar criminal experience to properly defend an individual. Unfortunately, many defense attorneys see these types of cases as just your ordinary criminal case and are not prepared to fully and adequately defend their client. I know this because I have seen it first hand. As Deputy Chief Assistant Attorney General for the Medicaid Fraud Unit in Florida, I prosecuted the recovery of millions of dollars in criminal restitution orders and more than $20 million in civil recoveries over a four-year period.
Defendants in Medicare Fraud Cases
For defendants facing any type of white collar criminal investigations, the need for aggressive, strong, and experienced legal representation starts not when you are arrested. Rather, it starts when you are approached by a government agency. The greatest mistake a person can make is to wait too long to get a team in place to defend them. In many instances timing is everything. A person can go from a potential whistle blower or witness to a defendant in the blink of an eye.