The Obama Administration and Expanded Efforts to Fight Fraud

Vice President Joe Biden and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today at a Cabinet meeting focused on President Barack Obama’s commitment to cut waste and eliminate misspent dollars across the Federal government.

The DOJ recovered $5.6 billion in 2011, $2.9 billion of which was in health care fraud alone. This major recoupment of government funds was driven in part by unprecedented cooperation between the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services to detect and halt fraud earlier. Specifically, the Obama Administration has greatly expanded the use of Medicare Fraud Strike Forces, specialized teams of agents and prosecutors who focus on catching health care fraud. The teams monitor Medicare data in real time and work together to prosecute fraud much more quickly than before. It now often takes months, not years, to bring a case to resolution. At the start of the Administration, there were two Strike Force teams. Now, there are Strike Force teams in nine different cities across the country, including Miami. And they have been effective: in 2008, they brought cases involving $384 million in fraudulent claims. This year, they brought cases involving over $1 billion in fraudulent claims. For every dollar spent on this effort, the Administration has recovered seven dollars.

The Department of Justice has also recovered $15 billion in total fraud since 2009. Some of this money has gone back to states, whistleblowers, or into strengthening important programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Other funds have been returned to the Treasury for deficit reduction. Of the $15 billion recovered since 2009, $8.4 billion was in health care fraud alone.

The Department of Justice also announced they doubled fraud recoveries between 2008 and 2011 in twenty-one states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. This includes Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. In fact, 15 of these states quadrupled recoveries and 19 of these tripled recoveries. In Florida, fraud recoveries increased by 357% from $75 million in 2008 to over $345 million this year. Click here to see the state by state numbers.

This increase in recovering fraud comes as the Administration is decreasing the amount of fraud that occurs in the first place.  Government-wide improper payment rates – which include fraudulent payments and other types of errors – were cut by 11 percent this year, keeping $18 billion in taxpayer funds from going to the wrong people or for the wrong purposes.

“All across the country, the Department of Justice continues to move aggressively to protect the American people from fraud. In this past fiscal year, we recovered more money from fraudsters than ever before, over $5.6 billion,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole. “These efforts not only send the message that those who commit fraud will be held to account, they also result in more dollars in the national treasury and demonstrate a high rate of return on the American taxpayers’ investment in the Justice Department.”

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