This week on January 28, the Department of Healthand Human Services and the Department of Justice held an invitation only Summit on Health Card Fraud. Key Speakers included Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder.
The summit was an unprecedented event on health care fraud where law enforcement and the private and public sectors come together as a part of the Obama Administration’s coordinated effort to fight health care fraud. The seminar covered such topics as
- Use of technology to prevent and detect health care fraud and improper payments.
- Role of states in preventing health care fraud.
- Development of effective prevention policies and methods for insurers, providers and beneficiaries.
- Effective law enforcement strategies.
- Measuring health care fraud, assessing recoveries and determining resource needs.
Highlights from some of the key speakers include the following:
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave a moving introduction of the significance of the summit. She reinforced the Obama Administration's stance on "zero tolerance" for criminals who cheat taxpayers, endanger patients, and jeopardize the future of Medicare. A few highlights from her speach include the following remarks:
"Today, the President has asked us to put these criminals on notic. The problem of health care fraud is bigger than either government, law enforcement or the private industry can handle alone. We will need all of us working together to solve it. In the fight to prevent, find, catch, and prosecute these crooks, we want every good idea we can get.
Health care fraud is a national problem. It affects federal programs like Medicare, state programs like Medicaid, and private insurance companies. We’re all part of a health care system that has been undergoing rapid growth.
Between 1970 and today, America’s annual health care spending has gone from $75 million to over $2.5 billion. That has produced significant benefits for patients. But it’s also created a much bigger target for criminals. And a much bigger challenge for investigators. The difference between catching fraud then and now is the difference between trying to find a penny in a bathtub and trying to find a penny in a swimming pool."
Attorney General Eric Holder stated in his opening remarks that the HHS-DOJ Healthcaree Fraud summit marks a critical step forward in the work being done by HEAT, our Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team that was established last May. He gave several insightful comments after addressing the fact that we have a serious problem on our hands with healthcare fraud. If the agencies, concerned advocuates and citizens work together, combined forces, more progress will be made.
Comments from Attoney General Holder on the next steps that should be taken in the fight aganst healthcare fraud.
First, we must strengthen HEAT ( We will continue to combine and leverage our agencies’ resources and expertise, including the FBI,the Office of Inspector General at HHS, and the local U.S. Attorneys Offices to pursue both civil and criminal cases.
Second, we’ll continue to support our Medicare Fraud Strike Forces and work to expand these teams to areas of the country where our efforts are most needed. These teams have changed the enforcement landscape.
Third, we will continue to push for the investments necessary to meet our duties and do our jobs. I’m pleased that Congress and the Administration have provided strong support.
Fourth, our agencies will continue to work with Congress to identify and pursue the legislative and regulatory reforms necessary to prevent, deter and prosecute health care fraud."
Incoming Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler stated the followng in his remarks:
"Every year, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent to provide health care for millions of American seniors, children, and the disabled. And each year billions of these dollars are stolen through fraudulent schemes that cheat taxpayers and contribute to the increasing cost of health care for all Americans.
We are here today because we know we need to do more. Not only does health care fraud harm the stability of public health care programs, it harms everyone - it drives up the cost of health care, insurance premiums, and taxes for all Americans."
We applaud the efforts of the Obama Administration and the agencies that have come together to address this critical issue of fighting healthcare fraud. As Civil Justice Prosecutors, we are vigilant in the prosecution of fighting corruption, especially fraud against the government and taxpayers. The crime and corruption will only stop if the protocols and measures are put in place to uncover the fraud, and prosecutte the criminals that are found guilty. This will only stop, if criminals, including corporations, understand the significance with huge fines and jail time,where appropriate.