An estimated $60 billion a year is siphoned off from the Medicare program through fraudulent means. The investigation into healthcare fraud has uncovered this and many other shocking facts even as the country gears up to find out more about the various cases filed by the Obama administration in different cities.
Healthcare reforms are an important component of Obama’s political strategy. The Democrat President has been pushing for a complete overhaul of the various programs and schemes sponsored by the government under this heading.
Although the Republicans have been strongly opposed to the focus on healthcare, it is undeniable that this area is one where much of the government expenditure happens. Given the current situation where it is becoming evident that government spending cuts need to be brought in right away, there is clearly a need to stem leaks from heavily sponsored programs such as Medicare.
Nearly 45 million Americans are beneficiaries of the Medicare program. The treatment and health schemes offered under this program are sponsored by various companies that are, in turn, paid by the government from tax payer funds. Critics have been vociferous in their complaint that the entire system is susceptible to fraudulent practices and that the companies are overpaid substantially to implement the programs.
As part of the Medicare reform proposed by the President, several cases have been filed against defendants, charging them with crimes ranging from false claims, bribery, money laundering etc. Eric Holder (Attorney General) and Kathleen Sebelius (Health and human Services Secy) have now announced the charges that are being leveled at defendants across nine cities who are suspected to be involved in health care fraud.
An additional 2600 cases are still being investigated, according to FBI sources. An alarming development that has been revealed in recent cases is evidence of the involvement of organized crime groups in many of these frauds.
Given these facts, it is clear that, as the Attorney General states, the extent of fraud is not fully exposed as yet. The coming months will see continuing efforts from various government agencies in uncovering other frauds and strengthening the system so that loopholes are closed.
On a positive note, last year’s healthcare reform efforts paid off with the recovery of about $4 billion back into the U.S. government coffers. Hopefully the expanded Medicare Fraud Strike Force that now covers Chicago and Dallas in addition to the earlier seven cities will continue to be as effective in future as well.