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U.S. health fraud stings net 300 people this year

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(Bloomberg) — The U.S. charged 300 people this year in a series of medical fraud sting operations, the most ever, for allegedly running scams that bilked the government out of $900 million.

Take-downs so far this year have involved medical clinics, home health care services and shell companies that submitted fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims for tens of millions of dollars at a time, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and other U.S. officials announced Wednesday.

In one example, three individuals were indicted for operating clinics that gave drug addicts prescriptions for controlled substances and narcotics and then billed Medicare for $36 million in fraudulent claims for services that were never provided.

“This is an example of how purported health-care providers prey upon and compound the drug addictions of Medicare beneficiaries in order to steal more money from the Medicare program,” according to a statement from the Justice Department.

The takedowns represent continuing efforts by U.S. officials to combat health care fraud costing the government billions. Last June, the Justice Department charged 243 people, including 46 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, with defrauding the Medicare system of $712 million through false billing.