Health Care Reform Legislation Seeks Funding for 13 New Health Care Fraud Stike Forces

gavel%20and%20stethescope.jpgAs reported previously here, a central feature of the Obama administration’s health care reform has been the HEAT (Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team) initiative is the use of Strike Force teams. Strike Forces are multi-agency units of Federal and State law enforcement personnel designed to identify, investigate, and prosecute Medicare fraud. Strike Forces are supported by a CMS data analysis team and CMS program experts.
Since May 2009, this Administration has expanded Strike Force cities from Miami and Los Angeles, when Strike Force teams were launched in Houston and Detroit in May 2009 and in Brooklyn, Baton Rouge, and Tampa in December 2009. (To read more, click: here).
Building on the momentum started last May, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary William Corr and U.S. Department of Justice Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, testified earlier this month before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations and stated that the entire $250 million increase in the President’s Budget advances the goals of the HEAT initiative.
Strike Force defendants are also more likely to receive prison sentences and longer terms of imprisonment than more traditional criminal health care fraud defendants. Since the Strike Force’s inception, over 94% of all Strike Force defendants were convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment compared to 64% of all criminal health care fraud defendants. The average prison term for Strike Force defendants was 45 months, which was about 10% longer than the overall national average for federal health care fraud defendants over this same period.
New Strike Force locations are chosen based on thorough analysis of Medicare claims data, which helps identify hot spots of unexplained high-billing levels in concentrated areas, and a review of the most effective allocation of investigative and prosecutorial resources. The cost associated with Strike Forces expansion resulting in 20 locations by end-of-year FY 2011 is an estimated $46 million.