From today’s Los Angeles Times:
On Tuesday, a jury found [south Los Angeles pastor Christopher] Iruke, his wife and an employee who worked for the couple guilty of healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud…
Authorities said Iruke and associates often supplied power wheelchairs to Medicare patients perfectly capable of walking on their own —including one who did jumping jacks to show agents he never needed one. Also among the patients Iruke and his associates filed reimbursement claims for were two people who were deceased, according to court papers…
After purchasing the wheelchairs at about $900 wholesale and paying for the prescriptions, he pocketed the remainder of about $6,000 in taxpayer money he received as Medicare reimbursements, according to court documents. The pastor operated four medical equipment supply companies between May 2002 and September 2009 as part of the scheme, according to authorities.
In all, Iruke’s companies filed for $14.2 million in claims and received about $6.6 million in reimbursements.
The money funded a lavish lifestyle, including several luxury cars, international travel, and about half a million dollars of remodeling on his Baldwin Hills home, prosecutors contended in trial…
The case was brought as part of a federal strike force on Medicare fraud, which has resulted in charges against more than 1,000 people across the country who billed the program $2.3 billion, according to a Department of Justice press release.
Apologies for the long excerpt, but this stuff is fascinating for several reasons. The ease with which these folks defrauded Medicare. The vast gulf between the market price for a wheelchair ($900) and what Medicare pays ($6,000) — which practically begs people to defraud the program. The fact that DOJ pats itself on the back for nabbing the perpetrators of $2.3 billion of fraudulent billings even though that represents a much smaller number of fraudulent payments, which in turn account for a teeny-tiny share of the official estimate that Medicare loses $48 billion to fraud and other improper payments per year, which itself understates the extent of fraud in the program.
As I explain in this article and the below video, the extent of Medicare and Medicaid fraud is truly mind-blowing.
ObamaCare will bring even more fraud. And efforts to combat Medicare, Medicaid, and ObamaCare fraud will always be inadequate until Congress reforms or scraps these entitlement programs.
See this Cato essay for more on fraud and abuse in government programs, including Medicare.