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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks at a conference in Washington on Dec. 5. / Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- The government recovered $4.2 billion in health care fraud money in 2012, continuing the trend of large investigations that has been breaking records since 2010.

"In the past fiscal year, our relentless pursuit of health care fraud resulted in the disruption of an array of sophisticated fraud schemes and the recovery of more taxpayer dollars than ever before," Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday. "This report demonstrates our serious commitment to prosecuting health care fraud and safeguarding our world-class health care programs from abuse."

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said for every dollar spent on fraud and abuse in the past three years, the government brought $7.90 back in through lawsuits and fines.

The 2010 health care law created one agency and expanded another to fight health care fraud, resulting in nine Medicare Fraud Strike Force Teams that sprouted up in areas particularly prone to Medicare fraud -- such as Texas and Florida.

When the law passed, Medicare's actuary predicted a total of $4.9 billion in fraud and abuse savings in addition to programs they already had in place. The government has collected almost $15 billion over the past four years. That's up from $6.7 billion over the previous four years, including about $1 billion in 2007.

"Our historic effort to take on the criminals who steal from Medicare and Medicaid is paying off: We are gaining the upper hand in our fight against health care fraud," Sebelius said. "This fight against fraud strengthens the integrity of our health care programs and helps us fulfill our commitment to our seniors."

The government also identified 150,000 ineligible Medicare providers by screening the providers who participate in the program in 2012. They recovered $3 billion through settlements and judgments through whistle-blower claims that included illegal pricing by drug manufacturers, marketing medical devices and medications for uses that have not been approved, and fraud by hospitals and other health care providers. And they recovered $1.5 billion in fines and forfeitures.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Feds recovered $4.2 billion from anti-fraud efforts

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