Good afternoon. Today I’m joined by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, of the Department of Health and Human Services; Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Deputy Director Sean Joyce, of the FBI; HHS Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Gary Cantrell; and Dr. Peter Budetti, Deputy Administrator for Program Integrity of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – in announcing the latest achievements in the federal government’s ongoing fight against health-care fraud.
As of today, as part of a coordinated, nationwide takedown, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force – a joint initiative led by the Departments of Justice and HHS that’s comprised of federal, state, and local investigators and law enforcement officials from across the country – has charged 107 defendants in seven different cities for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $452 million in false billings. This is the highest amount of alleged false Medicare billings involved in a single takedown in the Strike Force’s 5-year history.
The defendants charged include doctors, nurses, social workers, health-care company owners, and others – who are accused of a range of serious offenses, including health-care fraud, conspiracy to commit health-care fraud, money laundering, and violations of the anti-kickback statutes. And this takedown would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of roughly 500 agents and investigators nationwide – from the FBI and state and local officers, to the HHS Office of the Inspector General and multiple Medicare Fraud Control Units.
Working in close cooperation, these dedicated professionals launched and advanced numerous, extensive investigations; executed 20 search warrants; and have arrested or taken into custody 91 of the charged defendants. I am grateful to – and proud of – each one of them. Their actions underscore the Justice Department’s determination to move aggressively in bringing to justice those who would violate our laws and defraud the Medicare program for personal gain. And their work is at the heart of an Administration-wide commitment to protecting the American people from all forms of health-care fraud, which – as we’ve seen in far too many communities – can drive up health-care costs and even threaten the strength and integrity of our entire health-care system.
Three years ago this month, this commitment inspired the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to launch a joint initiative known as the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team – known as HEAT – to leverage the strength of federal, state, and local partnerships in taking the fight against health-care fraud to a new level. A driving force behind HEAT’s success has been our criminal Medicare Strike Forces, which have charged more than 1,330 defendants with more than $4 billion in false billings. And I’m pleased to say that our investments in this work are yielding extraordinary returns. In fact, over the last three fiscal years, for every dollar we’ve spent fighting against health-care fraud, we’ve returned an average of seven dollars to the U.S. Treasury, Medicare Trust Fund, and others.
Despite these remarkable results, much more remains to be done. Fortunately, our determination to build on the progress we’ve made – and to strengthen the partnerships we’ve established across all levels of government and law enforcement – has never been stronger. And, as today’s historic announcement proves, our approach has never been more effective. Thank you all, once again, for your outstanding – and ongoing – contributions.
It’s now my privilege to turn things over to a key leader, and partner, in this work – my friend, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.