Feds cracking down on healthcare fraud, prosecutions to rise 85%

As many institutions suspect from simply reading the news, federal prosecutions of healthcare fraud are soaring, set to rise 85 percent, according to U.S. Justice Department data. In fact, healthcare fraud was the most frequently recorded charge in all fraud prosecutions, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

The government prosecuted 903 cases of healthcare fraud, up 24 percent from last year, reports USA Today. The increased numbers come from more investigations under the close attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Medicare Fraud Task Force, as well as the participation of whistleblowers. The FBI recently changed their focus to target criminal enterprises, including hospitals. In 2010, the government paid out $300 million to whistleblowers.

"That's just a stunning number when you see it in the first eight months," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer about the task force's prosecutions. "We're just going to build on this model, and we're going to hold those responsible who are stealing from the government."

According to a Kaiser poll this summer, most Americans blame out-of-control healthcare spending on fraud and waste.

Although some may applaud the federal government for punishing fraudsters, on the flip side, New York's Inspector General Jim Sheehan lost his post in June for taking a hard-nose stance on Medicaid penalties. After recovering nearly $1 billion from Medicaid fraud, critics argued that he treated routine billing mistakes as fraud.

The government recovered a record $4 billion from health fraud cases in 2010, reports USA Today.

For more information:
- read the UPI article
- read the USA Today article
- check out the data

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