U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) today commended the recent actions taken by the departments of Justice (DoJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS), the HHS's Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on their interagency effort to combat Medicare fraud and prosecute offenders through their Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) task force.
"Every dollar stolen through fraud is another dollar we can't use to care for seniors," said Martinez, lead Republican on the Senate's Special Committee on Aging. "The indictments in Detroit and Miami are proof that detection and prevention measures must be put in place to prevent the ongoing and massive defrauding of the federal government's public health care plan for seniors."
Earlier this year, Senator Martinez introduced the Seniors and Taxpayers Obligation Protection or "STOP" act, which will work to reduce the billions of dollars stolen every year by creating Medicare fraud prevention and detection systems. In particular, the STOP Act would protect seniors and doctors from identity theft, keep criminals from becoming Medicare providers, and strengthen data mining and matching to catch criminals currently engaged in Medicare fraud.
"We are all too aware of the rampant fraud perpetrated against health care resulting in more than 60 billion taxpayer dollars lost every year," said Martinez. "Today's indictments demonstrate the urgent need to implement fraud detection and prevention measures in our current programs, as well as within the planned health care reform, to minimize the need for pay-and-chase' prosecution system, which is much less effective and more costly."
Earlier this month, Senator Martinez asked the DoJ and HHS to provide information about the data-driven approach they are implementing to prevent and detect Medicare fraud, plans to identify new geographic areas requiring targeted enforcement, the strategy to conduct on-site verification of medical equipment suppliers, and compliance training for Medicare providers and plans included in their HEAT task force.