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By NWV News Writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
June 25, 2012

A Cuban man living in Miami, FL, was charged Tuesday for his part in a money-laundering conspiracy that deposited millions of U.S. dollars, obtained in a health care scam, into banks located in Cuba, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Oscar Sanchez had been arrested by FBI agents last week and appeared in federal court in Miami yesterday morning. He is accused of being the leader of a criminal enterprise that illegally obtained more than $30 million from the federal health care program for the elderly. The stolen funds were then transferred into several Havana banking institutions in the communist country, according to Justice Department officials.

According to the grand jury indictment, the 46-year-old Sanchez is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering through a syndicate with links from Montreal and Trinidad to Cuba from sometime in April 2005 through October 2009.

Sanchez is facing upwards of 20-years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge alone. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami also seeks more than $20 million in Florida real estate and other property purchased using the accused's name, according to court documents.

According to a law enforcement source in Miami, the Sanchez-Medicare case is the first time U.S. law enforcement officials traced money stolen from a U.S. government health care program into the Cuban financial system.

Miami has long been described by law enforcement officials as primary location for Medicare and Medicaid fraud in the U.S., and many of the suspects in health care fraud cases have been Cuban Americans.

Along with the laundering of millions of dollars in government reimbursements to crooked health care providers -- who offered bogus HIV and medical equipment services -- Sanchez is alleged to have provided cash to cover expenses of the fraud suspects, according to the indictment.

While government estimates of yearly Medicaid-Medicare losses due to fraud are between $30 billion and $60 billion, some law enforcement officials believe that once so-called Obamacare becomes fully implemented, fraud figures may double each year.

According to Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute, experts estimate that "abuses of Medicaid (alone) eat up at least 10 percent of the program’s total cost nationwide -- a waste of $30 billion a year. Unscrupulous doctors billing for over 24 hours per day of procedures, phony companies invoicing for phantom services, pharmacists filling prescriptions for dead patients, home health-care companies demanding payment for treating clients actually in the hospital -- on and on the rip-offs go."

The cheating is brazen because scam artists have figured out that years of lax oversight have made Medicare-Medicaid easy plunder, according to Malanga.

Opponents of the plan commonly known as ObamaCare believe that if the US government succeeds in taking control of the health care industry, losses due to fraud and abuse will drastically increase.

Illegal aliens bankrupting California's Medicaid

With hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens being covered by Medicaid in California, causing the government health care system to face bankruptcy, the President Barack Obama approved hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to California’s Medicaid program that the state needs in order to tackle its dismal financial situation.

California's liberal Governor, Jerry Brown, in July had urged the Obama White House to give him the authorization to drastically reduce Medicaid payments to providers by up to 10 percent, claiming it would save the $623 million this year and next.

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"Brown's plan is simple: Citizens will have to suffer with fewer Medicaid benefits in order to continue covering the enormous illegal alien population," notes political analyst Mike Baker.

The problem is that there have been so many payment reductions in California and other states that it's becoming more and more difficult to locate physicians, especially specialists, who still accept Medicaid insurance, Baker pointed out.

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According to a law enforcement source in Miami, the Sanchez-Medicare case is the first time U.S. law enforcement officials traced money stolen from a U.S. government health care program into the Cuban financial system.