MIAMI– Federal authorities arrested more than 30 suspects, including doctors, and were seeking others in a major Medicare fraud bust Wednesday in New York, Louisiana, Boston and Houston, targeting scams such as “arthritis kits” — expensive braces that many patients never used.
More than 200 agents worked on the $16 million bust that included 12 search warrants at health care businesses and homes across the Houston area, where the bulk of the arrests were made.
Federal authorities say those businesses were giving patients “arthritis kits,” which were nothing more than expensive orthotics that included knee and shoulder braces and heating pads. Patients told authorities they were unnecessary, and many never even received them. But health care clinic owners billed between $3,000 to $4,000 for each kit.
Houston’s other scam involved billing Medicare for thousands of dollars worth of liquid food such as Ensure for patients who can’t eat solid food. Authorities said clinic owners never distributed the food to patients. In some cases, clinic owners billed patients who were dead when they supposedly received the items.