About 400 California Residents Arrested for Health Care Fraud in Statewide FBI Investigation
The FBI has arrested about 400 state residents over the past two years as part of a "crackdown" on health care fraud, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. In the statewide investigation, the FBI has targeted "illegal kickbacks" and "false billing schemes," which have cost California about $7.5 billion. An investigation of a "wellness clinic" in Los Angeles -- the "largest undercover medical fraud inquiry in U.S. history" -- resulted in 23 arrests and an additional 116 suspects. In the investigation, which began in 1998, state and federal FBI agents posed as doctors at the clinic, and retired agents posed as patients. In those roles, federal officials received about $180,000 in illegal kickbacks from medical supply companies and clinical laboratories for "exaggerating or falsifying documents justifying the need for medical equipment." In addition to the Los Angeles clinic, the FBI investigated Sacramento pharmacists who billed Medi-Cal for prescription drugs or equipment that they never dispensed to patients, a group that "staged" automobile accidents in San Diego and a San Francisco company that sold "fraudulent health care plans." The AP/Contra Costa Times reports that the FBI expects "hundreds more arrests" from the statewide investigation. "We want to get the message out that we are going to continue to go after these people," Ronald Iden, who heads the FBI's Los Angeles division, said (AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/20). An April 19 NPR "All Things Considered" report on the Los Angeles clinic investigation is available online. Note: You must have Real Player to listen to the report.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.