Page last updated at 02:13 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 03:13 UK

FBI 'cracks $50m healthcare scam'

US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and FBI Director Robert Mueller announce the charges, 24 June
The charges were announced by top officials in Washington

The FBI says it has uncovered a $50m (£30m) scam involving the US healthcare system, making arrests in Florida, Michigan and Colorado.

Fifty-three people have been charged with defrauding Medicare, the government insurance scheme providing care to the elderly and disabled.

Doctors allegedly gave cash to patients to sign paperwork claiming to have had treatments which they were never given.

Medical staff, patients and company executives are among those charged.

A day earlier, police arrested eight people in Miami involved in a separate scheme using fake clinics to generate fraudulent bills of around $100m.

Federal agents say they are investigating almost 2,500 other cases and that fraud is costing American taxpayers billions of dollars every year.

Those in the administration and Congress now working on wider healthcare reforms say building better safeguards will be central to any new system.

President Barack Obama is currently seeking to overhaul the US healthcare system.

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