Feds Turn Up the HEAT on Medicare and Medicaid Fraud

Evelyn Pringle May 21, 2009

On May 20, 2009, US Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the creation of the Heath Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team to take up the battle against Medicare and Medicaid fraud with senior officials from HHS and the US Department of Justice working together.

“With this announcement, we raise the stakes on health care fraud by launching a new effort with increased tools, resources and a sustained focus by senior-level leadership,” Attorney General Holder said in a May 20, 2009 DOJ press release.

“Every year we lose tens of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid funds to fraud,” he advised.

“Those billions represent health care dollars that could be spent on medicine, elder care or emergency room visits, but instead are wasted on greed,” Holder said. “This is unacceptable, and the Justice Department is committed to working with the Department of Health and Human Services to eradicate it.”

The President’s budget also invests $311 million, or a 50% increase over 2009 funding, to strengthen program integrity activities within the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

“Combined, the anti-fraud efforts in the President’s budget could save $2.7 billion over five years by improving oversight and stopping fraud in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, including the Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug programs,” the press release states.

They are calling on Americans to visit a new website at http://www.hhs.gov/stopmedicarefraud or call 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) to report suspected Medicare fraud.

“Medicare fraud schemes have grown bolder and more elaborate, resulting in billions of dollars in false billings and fraud schemes which are robbing Medicare and Medicaid blind and leaving our most vulnerable citizens at risk,” the website advises.

“Not only is waste, fraud and abuse taking critical resources out of our health care system, it contributes to the rising cost of health care for all Americans and harms the short-term and long-term solvency of these essential programs,” it warns.

“The American people are some of our best weapons in the fight against Medicare fraud,” Sebelius said in the press release. “Fraud is happening in communities across the country right now and we need the American people to blow the whistle on thieves and criminals who are stealing from all of us.”

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