WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday that federal law enforcement officials have hit a milestone in 2016 by completing the "largest takedown ever" against defendants allegedly trying to defraud Medicare and other federal insurance programs.

The 2016 takedown involves 301 defendants and a loss amount of $900 million, the department said. That exceeds a record last year, when 243 defendants faced charges in a combined $712 million in losses.

Among the defendants charged in the takedown include two owners of a group of outpatient clinics and a patient recruiter who stand accused of filing $36 million in fraudulent claims for physical therapy and other services that were not medically necessary.

To find patients, the Justice Department alleges the clinic operators and the recruiter targeted poor drug addicts and offered them narcotics so they could bill them for services that were never provided.

Another case that was highlighted on Wednesday involved home health fraud. In that case, a doctor was indicted for billing $38 million for home health services that were not needed or ever provided.

The Justice Department said that about 50 percent of the cases in the 2016 take down involve some form of home health fraud, and about 25 percent involve pharmacy fraud.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch)