Still, fraud knows no party, race, or gender. Indeed, allegations against state Rep. Daphne Campbell's (D-Miami) clan could script a health-fraud installment of The Klumps.

Campbell ran ten group homes until the state canceled her Medicaid contract in 2006. Four people died in her facilities that year, including one developmentally disabled female patient, who had also been raped. Inspectors found rodent feces and general squalor.

Meanwhile, Campbell's ex-con husband, Hubert Campbell, has been accused by two former partners of defrauding Medicaid (Medicaid is a state version of Medicare and serves the poor and disabled).

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas carried water for Medicare swindler Houston Riverside  General Hospital.
David Ortez
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas carried water for Medicare swindler Houston Riverside General Hospital.

Not to be eclipsed, their 28-year-old son, Gregory Campbell, is accused of submitting nearly $300,000 in false Medicare billings while operating adult group homes. He's been charged with felony theft, organized fraud, and Medicaid fraud.

And just last week, Naples check-cashing store owner Oscar L. Sanchez was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for stealing $10 million from Medicare and siphoning it to Cuba. Sanchez, who is Cuban-American, was allegedly part of a ring that falsely billed Medicare for $374 million.

The culture of fraud stinks to the very head of Florida government.

During the 1990s, the feds prosecuted the largest fraud case in Medicare history against hospital chain Columbia/HCA. The company seemed more organized-crime outfit than health-care provider.

Columbia billed for tests that weren't necessary or ordered, submitted false diagnoses to increase reimbursements, paid kickbacks to doctors for patient referrals, and billed for home visits people didn't qualify for or receive.

The smoking gun was the two sets of books Columbia kept. One detailed all Medicare submittals. The other noted which were fraudulent, allowing Columbia to keep enough reserves to pay penalties should it ever get caught. A whistleblower estimated that fraud alone accounted for more than one-third of the company's profits.

When the whip came down in 2003, Columbia settled for $2 billion in fines for "systematically defrauding federal health-care programs."

The man at the head of this company claimed ignorance and was eventually fired — but with the velvet landing accorded to disgraced CEOs. Rick Scott walked away with nearly $10 million in severance, stocks worth $300 million, and a $1 million-a-year consulting contract. In 2010, he was elected governor of Florida.

Only two lesser executives got jail time. Lead FBI agent Joe Ford would later regret allowing the company to simply pay away its sins: "People need to go to jail."


Florida may be an epicenter of Medicare fraud — but it's a problem all over the country.

At Michigan's Monroe Pain Center, parking lots were filled with cars sporting license plates from Kentucky, Tennessee, and even Florida. That's how far people were ­willing to drive for a "Las Vegas Cocktail."

The cocktail mixes Xanax, Soma, and Vicodin for a powerful opiate high. Monroe was its unofficial retailer. It was led by Oscar Linares, a doctor from the Dominican Republic. In 2008, the office went from seeing 40 patients a day to as many as 250. Over two years, Linares prescribed 5 million doses of narcotics. Traffic grew so heavy that he hired a parking-lot attendant. Workers got bonuses when the patient count topped 200 in a day.

The cost to Medicare: $5.7 million.

Linares rarely examined his patients. One undercover cop didn't see the doctor until his tenth visit, and only then via a television monitor. Linares' workers simply gathered patients' information and had them sign blank forms that would be filled in later. Then a guy who used to work at Lowe's would hand out the scrips.

When the clinic was raided in 2011, police seized $214,000 in cash, a yacht, and the 55-year-old doctor's fleet, which included a Ferrari Spider and a Bentley Continental. Linares was charged with unlawful distribution of prescription drugs and Medicare fraud. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

A half-hour north, in Detroit's Cass Corridor, amid a stretch of poverty and ruin called "The Beach," shelters provide a steady flow of poor Medicare beneficiaries. Recruiters drink beer and sit on beach chairs — hence the name — wrangling people into vans that shuttle "patients" to doctors, home-health agencies, and mental-health clinics.

Doctors not only bill Medicare and Medicaid but use the power of prescriptions as currency to pay accomplices. It's a multiring circus, with the doctor at its center and kickbacks flowing in all directions, to pharmacies, patients, and recruiters.

"A recruiter will identify a physician and work out a deal, saying, 'I'll bring you so many patients,' and the recruiter will pay a physician $10,000 to $15,000 to write scrips like crazy, pad after pad, for a week," says one Detroit agent.

"When you have a dirty doctor writing 500 scrips for Oxycontin a month, you have to have a pharmacy that is going to fill them. If a pharmacy sees a Dr. ABC's scrip 500 times a month, they will call and ask, 'What's up, Doc?' The recruiter plays a role here too and says, 'I'm taking care of the pharmacy.'"

The scheme has even spawned subspecialties such as "quality assurance" experts. They're typically former doctors from overseas who read through patient charts to flag anything that might prevent Medicare from paying.

And since frauds realize that Medicare auditors see red flags when there's a billing spike from one company, they'll incorporate seven or eight to spread the grift. Some even launch check-cashing businesses to launder their money.

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17 comments
adela_juliana
adela_juliana

For prescription drugs we go to the Cuban doctors

for coke pot  crack and bath salt  we go to the hood

for meth we go to our local white trash  trailer parks

limpindrummer
limpindrummer

It's ironic that the same republican cubans, who make their living stealing from Medicare, vote for incompetent, corrupt, republican, politicians (cuban or not), who seek to abolish Medicare.  I'll go out on a limb and guess that they're still in business because they're greasing the republican cuban law enforcement personnel who are supposed to be investigating them.  Okay, not that much of a limb!

But, none of that is as ironic or as funny as their dim witted, republican, teabagger, counterparts who show up at teabagger rallies with signs that declaim: "KEEP GOVERNMENT OUT OF MY MEDICARE." 

moalta
moalta

Wow... you American especially in Florida amaze we Canadians.  Glad to see your problems with Cuban ripoff artists ... it's the least you deserve in payment for your stupid policies about Cuba.  We Canadians, and the rest of the world, actually recognize Cuba's independence and treat Cuban immigrants equally with other countries, thus avoiding acceptance of scumbags which you seem to welcome in Florida.  More importantly, we and all of western Europe have publicly administered and funded healthcare (hospital, doctor and lab services) and avoid the "for profit" high costs and ripoffs you Americans withstand.  By keeping these services private in the US, you deserve the inevitable high costs and ripoffs that will occur.  Ain't American values (capitalism and guns at any cost!) great!  Sorry to be arrogant but the US seems overly populated with right-wing yahoos and their blind followers.

goces1
goces1

Even Fidel Castro is in on this....Several Cuban nationals have come here to rake millions to Cuba's banks for the dictators.

stephenwnwrght84
stephenwnwrght84

These Jackasses make Florida look bad. And make it worse for the really sick & Disabled people living in Florida Hell Even Governor Rick Scott Got fined for this.before he was Elected governor. We need a new Governor. I miss Charlie Crist & im a Democrat

internetinternet
internetinternet

Flood insurance, mortgages, condominiums, and auto insurance.  Revolving door of fraud.  Welcome. 

run.randrand
run.randrand

SO BAND TOGETHER A MOB FIGHTING CREW LIKE ELLIOT NESS'S "UNTOUCHABLES", BACK IN THE PROHIBITION DAYS...!!!!!

Palangana
Palangana topcommenter

"South Florida Is Ground Zero for Medicare Fraud"


You don't say.

drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter


cuban medicare fraud and marco rubio is silent about

 South Florida is known as the capital of Medicare fraud,

Feds in Miami: Millions stolen from Medicare wound up in Cuban banking system In an unprecedented case, federal prosecutors have charged a Miami man with engaging in a massive money laundering scheme that moved millions stolen from the federal Medicare program into Cuban banks.

limpindrummer
limpindrummer

You sound like you've been paying too much attention to reality.  Don't you understand that real Americans watch Fox News and parrot corporate fascist talking points as if they were actually true? 

Exiliado
Exiliado topcommenter

@moalta I would argue with you, especially about why and how it is immoral to recognize the dictatorship currently oppressing Cuba, but when you call those with a different opinion "stupid", "right-wing yahoo" or "blind", you simply disqualify yourself. You, or your opinions, cannot be taken seriously due to your admitted arrogance and your lack of respect or tolerance for differing opinions.

305carolann
305carolann

@moalta Very easy for you to say... how many Cubans do you have living in YOUR neighborhood.  Any Botincas around?  Maybe some severed goat heads.  Don't get me started on Canada... how about you go bash some harp seals skulls in?  Or better yet, look up your local sexual predator - oh, that's right YOU CAN'T because that isn't public info there.  Your medicine is not nearly as good as ours here in America - that is a fact, look up the statistics.  Do you know how many freaking Quebec license plates I see daily? If the USA is soooooo bad why the fuck are there thousands of Canadians on MY beach with fat guts hanging over their speedos? 

adela_juliana
adela_juliana

@drakemallard 

Cuban banks?

FYI Cubans here and abroud put our money in the Netherlands like Mitt  Romney, Cuba does business with all the countries in the world ---not the USA====

run.randrand
run.randrand

@drakemallard .....ehhh? They do more then take days off, lie as politicians, eat black beans and slog down sweet, strong coffee in little cups??! Whoddathunkit???!

limpindrummer
limpindrummer

You are employing a strawman.  Moalta did not call "those with a different opinion," stupid, blind, etc.  It is quite clear from her/his post that he/she is referring to those with a very specific opinion: who support capitalist medicine, not the open ended false premise: "those with a different opinion," that you have tried to divert the argument with. 

moalta
moalta

@305carolann @moalta We Canadians go to Florida, Mexico and CUBA (700,000 to Cuba last year!) because it is warm.  More Americans by far die from lack of proper medical care than do Canadians because our doctor and hospital services are available for everyone without direct charges. It is also more efficient ... the cost of administering your private services and private insurance companies is the highest in the world.  It is foolish and stupid and the rest of the world knows it.  Enjoy your blissful ignorance.

 
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