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Medicare fraud added to county task force agenda

first_img Search and arrest warrants for 19 businesses and residences resulted in 10 arrests and five medical clinic closures. The team also seized $420,000 in cash, $1 million in jewelry and 41 firearms – including high-caliber assault weapons, Marquez said. “We were a little surprised by all the guns,” Ryzak said. “I don’t think they expected to find all that money either.” The team is working with the newly formed Fraud Interdiction Program in the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute suspects on fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and assault weapons charges. Seizures of assets, including cash, automobiles, jewelry and homes, is expected soon, Marquez said. “We have saved thousands of lives and have saved taxpayers millions of dollars in several of the programs – Medicare and Medi-Cal,” said Sachi Hamai, director of the Administrative Services Division in the county health department. Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “Many operators of illegal pharmaceuticals are selling outdated, substandard drugs and are providing a space for unlicensed doctors to practice,” Supervisor Gloria Molina said. “So far, our HALT team has successfully identified over $25 million in questionable Medi-Cal billings but the word is out and now illegal pharmaceutical operators are resorting to Medicare fraud. “These operators simply pick up their ‘practice’ and move elsewhere. They prey on largely immigrant communities and jeopardize people’s safety under the guise of protecting their health.” Since beginning undercover operations in 1999, the team has conducted more than 1,000 investigations, made 743 arrests, closed more than 70 businesses, confiscated more than $15 million worth of illegal pharmaceuticals, identified more than $25 million in Medi-Cal fraud and $3 million in fraudulent Medicare billing. “I think we are making a pretty big dent, but there is still a significant amount of fraud out there and we are doing our best to get it,” said Sharon Ryzak, chief of the Audit Compliance Division in the county health department. In a recent case, the team investigated five unlicensed medical clinics in Glendale and Burbank. The operators were suspected of stealing more than $25 million from the Medicare program, said Molina’s spokeswoman, Roxane Marquez. A health care fraud task force that saves taxpayers $27 million annually will be expanded to investigate Medicare fraud, Los Angeles County supervisors decided Tuesday. The supervisors established a new agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services so that Los Angeles County’s Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force can add Medicare fraud to its list of illegal activities it can investigate. The federal Office of Inspector General will add one special agent to the task force on a part-time basis specifically to assist in Medicare fraud investigations. The board created the HALT team in 1998 to crack down on Medi-Cal fraud, unlicensed doctors and clinics illegally practicing medicine and dispensing pharmaceuticals. last_img read more

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