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Justice Department charges nearly 200 people in $2.7 billion health care fraud schemes crackdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 200 people have been charged in a sweeping nationwide crackdown on health care fraud schemes with false claims topping $2.7 billion, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the charges against doctors, nurse practitioners and others across the U.S. accused of a variety of scams, including a $900 million scheme in Arizona targeting dying patients.

“It does not matter if you are a trafficker in a drug cartel or a corporate executive or medical professional employed by a health care company,” Garland told reporters. “If you profit from the unlawful distribution of controlled substances, you will be held accountable.”

In the Arizona case, prosecutors have accused two owners of wound care companies of accepting more than $330 million in kickbacks as part of a scheme to fraudulently bill Medicare for amniotic wound grafts, which are dressings to help heal wounds.

Nurse practitioners were pressured to apply the wound grafts to elderly patients who didn’t need them, including people in hospice care, the Justice Department said. Some patients died the day they received the grafts or within days, court papers say.

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