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Justice Department announces expansion of Medicare Fraud Strike Force

From Home Health Line.

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has announced the formation of a 10th area where regional Medicare Fraud Strike Force Teams will operate: New Jersey/Philadelphia. The team will focus on health care fraud and illegal opioid prescriptions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“The devastation the opioid epidemic is inflicting on communities across the country and here in the Mid-Atlantic region is staggering — and health care fraud has played a role in feeding that epidemic,” Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a release. “It is estimated that each year tens of billions of dollars in American taxpayer money are lost to fraud, waste abuse and improper payments. … Our Medicare Fraud Strike Forces, which we have now expanded into Newark and Philadelphia, constitute one of our most important and effective means for containing these threats to the American people.”

Strike Force teams use data analytics and the resources of federal, state and local law enforcement in an attempt to stop health care fraud, waste and abuse.

In addition to the Newark/Philadelphia regional Strike Force location, teams operate in Miami; Los Angeles; Detroit; southern Texas; Brooklyn, N.Y.; southern Louisiana; Tampa, Fla.; Chicago; and Dallas. There’s also a corporate Strike Force in Washington D.C.

“Strike Force teams bring together the efforts of the Office of Inspector General, the Department of Justice, Offices of the United States Attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, local law enforcement and others,” according to OIG’s website. “These teams have a proven record of success in analyzing data and investigative intelligence to quickly identify fraud and bring prosecutions. The interagency collaboration also enhances the effectiveness of the Strike Force model. For example, OIG refers credible allegations of fraud to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) so that it can suspend payments to the suspected perpetrators, thereby immediately preventing losses from claims submitted by Strike Force targets.”

These teams have shut down down health care fraud schemes and arrested more than 1,000 people nationwide.