MIAMI, Fla. (Legal Newsline)-Medicare fraud in South Florida accounts for about one in five of the criminal cases brought nationwide over the last year, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Wednesday.
Speaking at the U.S. attorney's office in Miami, he said that the U.S. Justice Department's Medicare Fraud Strike Force has brought 120 criminal and civil cases.
"Fighting the fraud and theft committed by these criminals is vital to
preserving our health care system - vital to its financial solvency, as well as its integrity," he told the office's staff.
"The Department's attorneys and agents make up our front line in stopping those criminals," he said.
The South Florida cases amount to more than $638 million in fraud.
Along with South Florida, Los Angeles is also considered one of the nation's areas with a high incidence of Medicare fraud, he said.
Nationwide, he said, the Justice Department has opened more than 3,600 criminal health care fraud investigations, and 3,300 civil investigations over the last four years.
"Every patient who takes kickbacks for unnecessary services covered by
Medicare might mean a real patient who doesn't get the treatment he should," Mukasey said.
"Every bottle of fake compounded medicine means a patient who won't get the medicine she needs," he added.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.