The Justice Department's Medicare Fraud Strike Force has set record numbers for health care prosecutions in Fiscal Year 2013, demonstrating the targeted and coordinated approach remains strong as the strike force enters its eighth year of fighting fraud against the government's health care programs.
"These record results underscore our determination to hold accountable those who take advantage of vulnerable populations, commit fraud on federal health care programs, and place the safety of others at risk for illicit financial gain," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "By targeting our enforcement efforts to "hot spots' in nine cities, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force is allowing us to fight back more effectively than ever before."
"The Medicare Fraud Strike Force is one of this country's most productive investments," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "We are not only putting hundreds of criminals who steal from Medicare in prison, but also stopping their theft in its tracks, recovering millions of dollars for taxpayers, and deterring potential criminals who ultimately decide the crime isn't worth it."
"Those perpetrating Medicare fraud cheat both taxpayers and vulnerable patients, and our Strike Forces are successfully fighting back -- holding criminals accountable and recovering stolen dollars," said Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Our joint commitment to bring the fight against fraud to criminal hotspots around the country is steadfast."
Under the supervision of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney's Offices, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force is formed by coordinated teams of investigators and prosecutors -- including personnel from the Justice Department, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI -- who analyze Medicare claims data to target specific geographic areas showing unusually high levels of Medicare billing.
By focusing on the worst offenders engaged in current fraud schemes in the highest intensity regions, the strike force seeks to deter fraud in the target community and prevent it from spreading to other areas. The strike force is currently operating in nine cities: Baton Rouge, La.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Chicago; Dallas; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami and Tampa, Fla. S ince its inception in March 2007, strike force prosecutors have charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program more than $5.5 billion.
In Fiscal Year 2013, the strike force set records in the number of cases filed (137), individuals charged (345), guilty pleas secured (234) and jury trial convictions (46). In addition, the defendants who were charged and sentenced are facing significant time in prison -- an average of 52 months in prison for those sentenced in FY 2013, and an average of 47 months in prison for those sentenced since 2007.
According to a recent report by the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for every dollar the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services have spent fighting health care fraud, they have returned an average of nearly eight dollars to the U.S. Treasury, the Medicare Trust Fund and others.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force is part of an unprecedented partnership between the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services called HEAT (Health care Enforcement and Prevention Action Team). Formed in May 2009, this partnership brings together high-level leaders from both departments to share information, spot trends, coordinate strategy and strengthen our fraud prevention efforts.