April 13, 2019 | From NBC News
Two dozen people, including doctors and owners of medical equipment companies, were charged in a more than $1 billion Medicare scam, authorities said Tuesday.
Investigators uncovered the sprawling plot that targeted elderly and disabled people by setting them up with back, neck and knee braces that they didn’t need, according to federal prosecutors.
Called Operation Brace Yourself, the investigation discovered that medical brace manufacturers were allegedly paying kickbacks and bribes to doctors working with fraudulent telemedicine companies in exchange for Medicare patient referrals for medically unnecessary braces. . . .
As part of the scheme, doctors were paid to prescribe braces to patients they had little to no relationship with. Prescriptions frequently came after doctors had brief conversations via phone or video conference with patients they had never met, prosecutors said.
The global fraud involved call centers in the Philippines and throughout Latin America.
As a result, the personal information of hundreds of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries across the country was compromised and could be used in future schemes, prosecutors said. An even larger number of patients received unwanted braces sent to their homes. The unwanted products could disqualify them from receiving a brace under Medicare if they need one in the future, prosecutors said.
(Read more at NBC News.)