Last week, the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control (HCFAC) Program has recovered over $27.8 billion since its inception in 1996. In FY 2014 alone, with a collective budget of $571.7 million, HCFAC efforts recovered $3.3 billion from individuals and companies facing allegations of fraud related to health care. Jointly directed by the Attorney General and Secretary of HHS, HCFAC seeks to:
- Coordinate federal, state and local law enforcement efforts relating to health care fraud and abuse with respect to health plans;
- Conduct investigations, audits, inspections and evaluations relating to the delivery of and payment for health care in the United States;
- Facilitate enforcement of all applicable remedies for such fraud; and
- Provide education and guidance regarding compliance with current health care law.
Over the past three years, for each dollar spent on health care-related fraud and abuse investigations the government has recovered $7.70. In other words, HCFAC efforts since 2012 have given the United States a staggering 770 percent return on investment.
Utilizing a two-pronged approach to combat fraud and abuse, ushered in with new authorities granted by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the United States is increasingly implementing cross-departmental preventative measures to curtail health care fraud and abuse, and reduce “pay and chase” efforts initiated after payments are made on claims that are identified as potentially fraudulent. For example, the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT)—a program jointly initiated in 2009 by DOJ and HHS—now investigates cases using real-time data analysis to identify fraudulent claims before payments are made to the provider. This real-time analysis could replace lengthy subpoena, production and account assessment; correspondingly, investigators are moving much faster from fraud identification, to arrest and prosecution. The HEAT program is charged with the following:
- Marshaling significant resources across government to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs;
- Reducing “skyrocketing” health care costs and improving the quality of care;
- Highlighting best practices by providers and public sector employees; and
- Building upon existing partnerships between DOJ and HHS, like HCFAC’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force.
As a complement to the HEAT program’s efforts on the civil side, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force program utilizes investigative and analytical resources from the HHS Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. Initially launched as a pilot program in selection regions, Strike Forces now operates in nine geographic areas—Brooklyn, NY; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Detroit, MI; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Southern Louisiana; and Tampa, FL. Strike Force prosecutors have filed over 963 cases, obtained 1,443 guilty pleas [...]