With the nation’s health care costs growing, a DOJ and HHS initiative to combat health care fraud continues to show progress.
Building on past enforcement efforts, in May 2009 the government announced its Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), as part of what is now a Cabinet-level battle against Medicare fraud. To date in FY 2009, the Department of Justice has recovered close to one billion dollars in health care fraud cases, and has obtained 300 convictions.
Last week, the government announced that its Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged twenty California defendants with $26 million in Medicare fraud from the sale of durable medical equipment (DME). That same week, the government charged six Houston area residents with participating in a scheme to submit claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary DME.
DME fraud and abuse are frequently reported in the calls we receive in representing “whistleblowers” under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The nation’s major whistleblower law, the False Claims Act allows private citizens who report fraud or false claims to share in the government’s recovery of damages.
Significant changes to the False Claims Act made earlier this year will improve its effectiveness in stopping fraud against taxpayer funds.