Crooked medical providers across America have much to celebrate this July 4th — and it has nothing to do with Independence Day.
News came this week that more than 1,200 medical fraud referrals are laying dormant at the Department of Health & Human Services. They will not be investigated because HHS says it doesn’t have enough resources — auditors, attorneys and investigators — to pursue the fraud allegations. And the problem soon will get worse.
HHS is set to lose 400 fraud fighters over the next two years due to impending budget cuts. Existing investigations and even cases already developed will be dropped, HHS says.
At stake is not only the billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayers and the treasury, but also the momentum that this federal agency and the Justice Department have created in gaining ground on widespread medical crooks.
Even if budgets are restored in the future, it will take years to rebuild the anti-fraud infrastructure, relationships and investigative acumen that are reaping the federal government $8 for every $1 spent on fraud fighting.
And in the meantime, the next generation of organized medical rings will have time to ramp up and get a foothold on becoming competent in avoiding detection while plundering Medicare money
The cuts are “a penny-wise, pound foolish approach that will end up costing our country in the long run,” U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) called the cuts after a recent hearing on Capitol Hill.
Fraud fighters, taxpayers and deficit hawks everywhere should be outraged. The Coaltiion certainly is.
About the author: Dennis Jay is executive director of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.