HHS Recovers over $4 Billion in Probes of Fraud; '10 Enforcement Results Best Ever

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Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

U.S. government efforts in health care fraud prevention and enforcement yielded more than $4 billion during fiscal 2010, the highest annual amount ever recovered from people who attempted to defraud seniors and taxpayers, and from those who sought payments to which they were not entitled.

Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the recovery efforts on Monday, along with new rules authorized by the Affordable Care Act that will help HHS prevent and fight fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Our aggressive pursuit of health care fraud has resulted in the largest recovery of taxpayer dollars in the history of the Justice Department, Mr. Perrelli said. "These actions are in large part because of the great work being led by the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team.

Through this initiative, we are working in partnership with government, law enforcement and industry leaders, and the public to protect taxpayer dollars, control health care costs, and ensure the strength and integrity of our most essential health care programs, he said.

Mrs. Sebelius said the Obama administration has made it very clear that fraud and abuse of taxpayers' dollars are unacceptable and that for too long "our fraud prevention efforts have focused on chasing after taxpayer dollars after they have already been paid out.

Thanks to the president's leadership and the new tools provided by the Affordable Care Act, we can focus on stopping fraud before it happens, she said.

The Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) was created in 2009 to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and to crack down on those abusing the system and costing American taxpayers billions of dollars.

Justice and HHS have enhanced their coordination through HEAT and have expanded Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams since their creation. The two agencies also have held regional fraud prevention summits and sent letters to state attorneys general urging them to work with HHS and federal, state and local law enforcement officials to mount a substantial outreach campaign to educate seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries on how to prevent scams and fraud. …