Number of health care fraud crimes skyrocket in Miami area as Medicare crackdown continues

Even the leading candidate for governor has been involved in a massive criminal scheme that ended with Florida Medicare fraud charges.

The Pensacola News Journal cited Rick Scott’s $1.7 billion Medicare fraud case in endorsing Bill McCollum for governor. “Ironic, given Florida’s status as a hotbed of medical fraud,” the paper wrote. Scott maintains he was not involved in the scheme with which his hospital system was charged.

Our Miami criminal defense lawyers continue to report the large number of Medicare and health care fraud charges originating in South Florida. Authorities contend that it has replaced drug trafficking as the area’s largest criminal enterprise. Yet our Miami Criminal Attorney Blog reported just three federal investigators were assigned to the region last year. The increased emphasis on enforcement, without increased manpower and other assets, increases the likelihood of hardworking medical professionals being wrongly charged.

And those whose identities are used to perpetrate health care fraud can find it difficult to qualify for legitimate medical services and often face challenges similar to victims of identity theft.

Dozens of defendants have been arrested and charged this summer. Most recently:

-Two defendants, ages 48 and 52, pleaded guilty this week in Miami federal court to a Medicare fraud scheme involving HIV infusions. Authorities say the scam netted $13.7 million, according to the South Florida Business Journal.

-The Miami Herald reported this week that a man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud in connection with a South Miami-Dade clinic. The man was accused of using his 76-year-old aunt to trick Medicare into paying for HIV therapy. The defendant’s wife was also sentenced to six years. The couple must repay $2.7 million to the federal health care program. In May, they were convicted of billing Medicare $5.8 million for HIV therapy that was never provided to patients.