In March 2007 the Medicare Fraud Strike Force originated in South Florida as a ground-breaking joint effort between the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division Fraud Section, the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies to prosecute individuals and businesses that did not provide legitimate health care services, but existed and operated for the sole purpose of stealing money from the Medicare coffers.
Over the last seven years, this first-of-its-kind strike force in the health care arena has become a model of innovation in terms of strategy, methodology and practice, but also quite some controversy. According to the Department of Justice, as of early 2014, the Strike Force, now in nine cities, has charged more than 1400 defendants, who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion. In addition, hundreds of millions of dollars have been returned to the Medicare Trust Fund through restitution and forfeiture. The question has been asked, however, whether the government has overreached in some of these healthcare fraud investigations and prosecutions. This aggressive approach smells from governmental over-reach, and requires anyone charged in a Strike Force case to seek out a Federal Criminal Attorney well experienced in Healthcare Fraud matters to present an effective defense.