Obama administration: Fraud-fighting efforts recouped billions for health care

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The Obama administration said Wednesday its programs to combat health care fraud recovered more than $8 for every investigative dollar spent over the past three years.

The Justice Department and Health and Human Services Department touted the results as the highest three-year average return on investment since its Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control program was established 17 years ago.

Agency heads said they recovered $4.3 billion in taxpayer dollars for fiscal 2013 — an increase from $4.2 billion the prior year — from individuals and businesses that defrauded health entitlement programs from seniors or bill the government for payments that were not entitled to.

Since 1997, the program has recovered nearly $26 billion to the Medicare trust funds.

“With these extraordinary recoveries, and the record-high rate of return on investment we’ve achieved on our comprehensive health care fraud enforcement efforts, we’re sending a strong message to those who would take advantage of their fellow citizens, target vulnerable populations, and commit fraud on federal health care programs,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

The administration says the new health care law provides them new tools to fight health care fraud, which remains a persistent problem in the United States.

Last week, the top prosecutor in the District of Columbia said it had arrested more than 20 people for schemes in which home care patients exaggerated symptoms in exchange for cash payments, so corrupt providers who recruited them could bill Medicaid for services that were never provided.

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