Federal prosecutors filed a record number of healthcare fraud cases during the fiscal year that ended in October, the Associated Press reported.
Last year saw 377 federal healthcare fraud cases, a 3 percent increase from the previous year, a 7.7 percent increase compared to five years ago, and a 9.9 percent bump from nine years ago, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a Syracuse University-based nonprofit group that tracks federal spending, staffing and enforcement activities.
TRAC obtained the latest available data from the Department of Justice through a Freedom of Information Act and found 377 marks the highest annual count since the federal Health Care Fraud law was passed.
Moreover, the latest numbers suggest the FBI and the Department of Health & Human Services are putting more focus on rooting out wrongdoing, TRAC Co-Director Susan Long told the AP. "Clearly the numbers suggest this is an area the [Obama] administration is not ignoring," Long said.
The DOJ data showed the FBI took the lead on 46.4 percent of federal healthcare fraud prosecutions, while HHS served as the lead agency in 36.6 percent of the cases. TRAC noted that many cases originated by HHS often went to the FBI.
The greatest year-over-year growth in the rate of prosecutions occurred in the Southern District of Illinois (1200 percent). Meanwhile, the Eastern District of Missouri had the largest drop in federal healthcare fraud prosecutions (30.8 percent), according to the data.
Southern Illinois U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton said prosecutors can prioritize their fight against crime and that he's he put special emphasis on cracking down on healthcare fraud, the AP noted.
The record-high federal healthcare fraud cases came in conjunction with a banner year for civil fraud recoveries. The justice department regained $3.8 billion through civil cases involving fraud committed against the government last fiscal year, with $2.6 billion in healthcare fraud recoveries, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.