Medicare Scam; Florida Gun Measure

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The Headline

DOJ charges 35 people in Medicare scheme

The Grind

In one of the largest healthcare fraud schemes in US history, the Department of Justice this week brought charges against 35 people involved in a fraudulent genetic testing scheme.

If convicted, they could face decades behind bars.

The Details

Here’s how the scheme worked:

Telemarketers offered Medicare beneficiaries free genetic tests to determine cancer risk and drug efficacy. Patients who agreed were asked to provide their driver’s license, Medicare information, and a DNA sample.

The labs conducting the “tests” billed Medicare and paid illegal kickbacks to doctors, who were working with the telemarketers in exchange for the referral of Medicare patients.

“And these doctors, in many cases, have zero contact with the patient and no knowledge of their healthcare situation or needs,” says HHS official Shimon Richmond.

In many cases, patients were convinced they would end up suffering a fatal illness if they did not get the test.

Medicare issued reimbursements of up to $18,000 for each test – a sum that was divided between the telemarketing company, the person who recruited the patient, the doctor who wrote the prescription, and the testing lab.

Investigators say the scheme cost Medicare more than $2 billion in unnecessary charges.

Individuals who believe they may have been victimized by the scheme are urged to call 1-800-HHS-TIPS.



A Call For Action

The Headline

Florida voters demand tighter gun control laws

The Grind

With the Parkland and Pulse (Orlando) shootings still weighing on their minds, gun-control advocates in Florida are asking lawmakers to ban semiautomatic rifles with high-capacity magazines (the kind of weapon most commonly used in mass shootings).

Such a ban has never been passed in a GOP-controlled state.

The political committee Ban Assault Weapons Now is collecting signatures in hopes of meeting a February deadline to put the proposed ban on the 2020 ballot.

“Passing a ban on assault weapons in Florida will set an example that it is absolutely possible for other states to follow suit, no matter their political affiliation,” says Al Hoffman (R), whose group Americans for Gun Safety Now has contributed $260,000 to the initiative.

The Details

The proposal differs from bans in other states in that it applies specifically to new semiautomatic weapons that can hold more than 10 rounds in a fixed or detachable magazine – such as AK-47s and AR-15s.

“All rifles are particularly lethal, but what allows a killer to transform into a killing machine is the ability to use a high-capacity detachable magazine and change a magazine quickly,” explains activist David Chipman.

Semiautomatic rifles were used in some of the most deadly mass shootings including Orlando (2016, 49 dead), Las Vegas (2017, 58 dead), Parkland (2018, 17 dead), and El Paso (2019, 22 dead).

Critics say the proposal is too strict. “We can make Florida safer without taking liberty from law-abiding citizens,” says Florida state Rep. James Grant (R), adding that the measure would outlaw sporting rifles.

To place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, proponents in Florida must collect 766,200 signatures and have the amendment’s language approved by the state’s Supreme Court.

The amendment needs 60% voter support to pass.




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Did you know… Most tropical marine fish could survive in a tank filled with human blood.