The federal government recouped $4.2 billion from fraudulent health care payments in fiscal 2012, the Obama administration said Monday, calling it the best return on investment since the government began a program 16 years ago to try to collect on bad payments.
Over the last three years, the Health Care Fraud and Abuse (HCFAC) Program obtained $7.90 for every dollar it spent on health care-related fraud and abuse investigations, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The announcement comes as Congress tries to balance its books and avert a debt crisis down the road. Politicians frequently cite the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid as a common-sense way to cut costs. However, Monday’s $4 billion annual figure is dwarfed by both the more than $700 billion the federal government alone spends on Medicare and Medicaid and by the recent wave of $1 trillion annual federal deficits.
HHS said its banner year of combating fraud in fiscal 2012 is up slightly from the $4.1 billion it recouped in fiscal 2011.
“Our historic effort to take on the criminals who steal from Medicare and Medicaid is paying off: We are gaining the upper hand in our fight against health care fraud,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.
The Obama administration also touted the president’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, for authorizing fraud-fighting measures such as more stringent screening and enrollment requirements.