On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, CMS published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to bolster the current State Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs or Units).  MFCUs investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud, including provider fraud, patient abuse, and neglect in health care facilities. MFCUs operate in 49 States and the District of Columbia. The MFCUs, typically a part of the State Attorney General’s office, use teams of investigators, attorneys, and auditors; are single, identifiable entities; and must be separate and distinct from the State Medicaid agency.  The OIG oversees the MFCUs, annually recertifies each MFCU, assesses each MFCU’s performance and compliance with Federal requirements, and administers a Federal grant award to fund a portion of each MFCU’s costs.

Last week, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a physician’s conviction for conspiracy to distribute an adulterated device with intent to defraud or mislead in violation of Section 331(k) of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). The physician – who dubbed his own practice “The McDonald’s of Urology” because of the high volume of patients he treated – reused plastic needle guides meant for single-use to conduct prostate biopsies on his patients over a period of several months.

CMS’s annual report demonstrates that the government is becoming increasingly effective at ferreting out fraud and abuse from the healthcare system. With a 12-to-1 return on investment, the government will likely continue to make fighting healthcare fraud a priority.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that it had brought criminal and civil charges against 301 healthcare professionals as part of the largest national healthcare fraud “takedown” in history. A nationwide investigation spearheaded by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force revealed claims amounting to $900 million in the form of alleged kickbacks, money laundering, and other false billings.