Back in July, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) completed the largest takedown of medical fraudsters in U.S. history, arresting over 400 healthcare professionals who together stole well over a billion dollars of federal money. Now, just four months later, OIG has set another national record in its continued mission to eradicate misuse of medical sector funds, this time convicting 51 New York healthcare professionals of bribery, the largest bust of its kind ever made.
The convicted, 37 of whom were doctors, were found to have violated numerous anti-bribery laws including the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act, and the honest services wire fraud statute. These providers accepted bribes from a clinical lab known as Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, LLC (BLS) in exchange for numerous patient referrals. Between March 2011 and April 2013, the primary physician implicated in these charges received over $66,000 in kickback money as a reward for generating BLS a whopping $650,000 in referrals.
The other 14 of the convicted were members of BLS; thanks to their bribes, the company received over $100 million in improper Medicare reimbursements. The lab has since shut down and been forced to forfeit all of its assets. Additionally, OIG task members have been able to recover roughly $13 million during the course of the investigation, but this still leaves the majority of the money unaccounted for.
OIG has shown that healthcare fraud is no light matter, and after their recent busts, there is no reason to believe that they will halt their investigative momentum. Bribery, fraud, and other abuses of Medicare funds are prevalent in facilities and practices all over the country, and they often go unreported by those that witness them. If you have information that a healthcare professional is committing one of these infractions, please contact the Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov.