The largest health care fraud in history was revealed Thursday, involving more than 412 defendants, including more than 115 doctors, nurses and licensed medical professionals nationwide.Defendants, including doctors, prescribed and distributed opioids and other dangerous narcotics and submitted false claims, according to charges filed by the U.S. Justice Department.
Medicare payments have been suspended to 295 medical providers, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, according to the case.
The case was announced by two White House cabinet members -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Tom Price, M.D., the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Schemes that falsely bill Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE (a health insurance program the armed forces and their families) for unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications are targeted.
Medications were billed for federal reimbursement that often were never even purchased and/or distributed to beneficiaries, the indictments say.
In a Nebraska case, Omaha area dentist Gregory Garro Jr., 58, was indicted for submitting claims to, and receiving reimbursement from, Nebraska Medicaid for dental services he did not provide, according to the indictments.
Between February 2013 and January 2016, Garro received $82,554 from Nebraska Medicaid for 129 claims for dental services, including dental services for patients who refused to be seen and dentures he did not provide.
He is charged with 24 counts of health care fraud, with a maximum penalty on each count of 10 years incarceration plus a $250,000 fine.
Garro will appear in federal court in Lincoln on Monday, July 24.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of a joint effort of the Department of Justice and HHS to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged more than 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.
A complaint or indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the announcement said.
“Too many trusted medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and pharmacists have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients,” Sessions said. “Amazingly, some have made their practices into multi-million dollar criminal enterprises. They seem oblivious to the disastrous consequences of their greed."
"Their actions not only enrich themselves, often at the expense of taxpayers, but also feed addictions and cause addictions to start," Sessions said. "The consequences are real -- emergency rooms, jail cells, futures lost, and graveyards. While today is an historic day, the department's work is not finished. In fact, it is just beginning. We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are.”
For information on how to detect and report Medicare fraud, see this link from Medical Pathways, an independent insurance agency --
Medicare Pathways handles all types of personal insurance needs, but specializes in everything Medicare, according to the company's website.