- Shawn Henry
- Executive Assistant Director
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Press Conference on Medicare Fraud Strike Force Takedown
- Washington, D.C.
- September 07, 2011
Good afternoon. As the Attorney General and Secretary Sebelius have noted, health care fraud in this country impacts everyone. It drives up the costs of health care. It causes insurance premiums to skyrocket. And it means more expensive prescription drugs for our seniors and those who are seriously ill.
These fraudulent schemes operate in big cities and small towns alike. They vary in size, scope, and sophistication. But those who commit these crimes all share one thing in common—the distorted belief that the Medicare system is their own personal ATM.
Health care fraud is a lucrative criminal enterprise with wide-reaching economic impacts. That’s why we’re seeing more and more criminal organizations getting into the act. These syndicates share strategies to steal money and avoid detection. They shift from one jurisdiction to the next to find new patients and new victims.
For these fraudsters, it’s a game. And the object of the game is simple: to steal as much money from the system as they can.
In one of the cases in today’s takedown, the owners of a purported mental health clinic in Miami allegedly paid recruiters to bring Medicare cardholders in from out of state to attend their treatment program. The operators of this center engaged in some very “creative writing” in the patient therapy notes they allegedly fabricated. Like others in today’s takedown, the standard operating procedure for this center is best described as “Admit First; Ask Questions Later.”
But while these crooks are playing fast and loose with the rules—not to mention with the American taxpayers’ money—your money—people who actually need mental health care are going untreated.
To us, this is serious business. Today, we are investigating more than 2,600 cases of health care fraud. More than 500 agents and analysts are using intelligence to identify emerging schemes and tactics.
We are collecting evidence through undercover operations—not only to strengthen cases for prosecution, but to help find and apprehend the leaders of these criminal enterprises, so they can’t simply pick up and move their fraudulent operations elsewhere.
As part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), we are committed to preventing and prosecuting health care fraud. Today’s arrests, and the ongoing success of the Medicare Fraud Strike Forces, are an indication that these efforts are producing results.
To date, the Medicare Fraud Strike Forces have charged more than 1,000 defendants. We, along with our partners in the Health Care Fraud and Control Program, have assisted in returning more than $4 billion to the U.S. Treasury and other fraud victims.
The health care system is a critical piece of our nation’s infrastructure. We must do everything in our power to protect the integrity of Medicare and our health care system at large.
Working together, we can help stop criminals who seek to steal American taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars. And we can help ensure that our nation’s health care system is there for those who need it.
I’d like to thank our partners in the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services for their collaboration on this effort. And now, I’d like to turn it over to Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.