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Fraud and the Presidential debate

Healthcare fraud entered the fray of Presidential politics last week

Healthcare fraud entered the fray of Presidential politics last week when President Obama took credit for his administration’s anti-fraud efforts during his debate with Gov. Romney. I’m pretty sure that was the first time any President has touted such efforts in a debate or similar forum

His exact words:

“…we went after medical fraud in Medicare and Medicaid very aggressively, more aggressively than ever before, and have saved tens of billions of dollars…”

It’s true that Obama has attacked fraud more aggressively than previous administrations. But given the many decades of paying and chasing claims half-heartedly, Obama’s boast might not be saying much.

Still, his claim was boosted this week when the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported results of recent anti-fraud efforts. In 2010, HHS initiated 8,900 investigations − 2,800 more than five years earlier. The federal government also banned 2,200 providers from doing business with Medicare, and collected record amounts of fines and restitution.

The government also has been credited with making strides in using anti-fraud technology.

It’s a good start. But I’ll wait to celebrate any success until the GAO releases reports for 2011 and 2012.. We should expect those results to be even more promising.

About the author: Dennis Jay is executive director for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

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