Feds target Medicare fraud in Detroit, nationwide

Mar 15, 2011

Two top Obama administration officials want people to know that cracking down on Medicare fraud is a “Cabinet-level priority.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius talked about those efforts at a Wayne State University summit Tuesday. The two have been holding “Health Care Fraud Prevention Summits” across the country.

Sebelius says government agencies and law enforcement are now using new tools to root out that fraud.

She says that includes tougher background checks for Medicare providers, and a new Medicare database to monitor suspicious billing.

“[It works] The same way banks and insurance companies really have done for years. We really have not ever been able to do that. And that’s a huge step forward.”

Sebelius and Holder say the federal government is recovering more money from fraud schemes than ever before. But they warn prevention efforts are the key to really cracking down.

Holder says last year's national health care reform gave officials new ways to do that.

“There’s a great deal of conversation about what we’re gonna do with the health care act. And I think one of the things that frequently gets lost is that there are innumerable new tools in that Act that make ourfraud prevention work, our fraud protection act a lot easier than it was in the past.”

Holder and local officials say Detroit is a prime “hotspot” for Medicare fraud. It's one of nine U.S. cities with a Medicare fraud “strike force.”

That’s a joint effort between law enforcement and health care agencies to prevent, uncover, and prosecute Medicare scammers.