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Proposed House Bill Would Increase Penalties for Medicare Fraud

A proposed bill, the Medicare Fraud Enforcement and Prevention Act, introduced in the House on Tuesday would double penalties for Medicare fraud. Sentences for Medicare fraud would be increased from 5 to 10 years and fines from $25,000 to $50,000. In addition, it would create a new crime for distributing patients’ Medicare or Medicaid IDs or billing information. That new crime would carry a maximum 3-year sentence.

The bill was introduced by two representatives from Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) and Ron Klein (D-Boca Raton). The bill, one of the first bipartisan efforts since the passage of the federal healthcare reform is a rebuttal to the increase in fraud despite the efforts of a federal health care fraud task force that prosecuted more than 800 people and identified more than $2.5 billion in fraudulent claims since 2006. According to law enforcement officials, Medicare fraud is an estimated $60 billion annual crime and is now more lucrative than drug dealing.

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