What’s the best way to steal from the federal government? Hands down, it’s bilking the Medicare payment system.
Every grifter, charlatan, and cheat knows that taking money illegally from Medicare is almost like taking candy from a baby. It’s absolutely astonishing the amount of taxpayer money that disappears into the greedy pockets of criminals every year.
You don’t even have to be a medical professional to play the game. A Georgia lab owner — along with several accomplices — managed to steal $2 billion — that’s “billion” with a “B” — from Medicare by falsely billing the system for unnecessary genetic tests.
U.S. federal agents raided genetic testing laboratories, and 35 people were criminally charged in four states in a crackdown on genetic testing fraud that officials said on Friday caused $2.1 billion in losses to federal healthcare insurance programs.
Officials at the Justice Department and Health and Human Services Department Office of the Inspector General said charges were filed in Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia in “one of the largest healthcare fraud schemes ever charged.”
Among those facing charges was Khalid Satary of Suwanee, Georgia, owner of Clio Laboratories in Lawrenceville, Georgia, who was accused in an indictment of soliciting medically unnecessary genetic cancer tests and paying illegal bribes and kickbacks.
Satary is no stranger to Medicare fraud. He used to run a toxicology lab that went bust while under investigation for illegal kickbacks.
The use of genetic testing, which helps people determine their risks of developing cancer and other diseases, has skyrocketed in the United States since 2015.
For Medicare, the public insurance program for elderly and disabled Americans, payouts for genetic tests jumped from $480 million in 2015 to $1.1 billion in 2018, a Reuters analysis found.
Genetic testing has sparked more than 300 federal investigations involving healthcare fraud and illegal kickbacks.
So, I’m no expert or anything, but hasn’t anyone noticed that there are 300 investigations into genetic testing payments? Maybe they should tighten that up, don’t ya think?
How easy is it to cheat the government with a genetic testing scheme?
The fraud schemes at issue in Friday’s announcement typically involved marketers’ hiring sales reps to get elderly people to provide a cheek swab that they are told could be tested to help them understand their risks of developing cancer or whether their genetics could unlock clues about how they will respond to drug treatments.
Doctors signed off on the tests as being medically necessary, and the swabs were sent for testing to labs that sought Medicare payments.
But many of the lab tests are not relevant to the patient’s history, and some of the doctors sign off on the results without conferring with the patient, investigators say.
If I were a criminal who could scare up a few thousand dollars, I’d open a genetic testing lab. The risk appears to be minimal and the rewards are extraordinary.
Besides, who’s going to catch you?