Good afternoon. It is a privilege to join with Secretary Sebelius; Karen Ignagni, President of America’s Health Insurance Plans – and leaders from across the Administration and the health care industry – as we announce a critical step forward in our nation’s fight against health care fraud. I especially want to thank President Obama for his commitment to this fight, and for the leadership that he has provided in establishing the Fraud Prevention Partnership.
Through this historic new partnership, government leaders and private sector experts will come together as never before – to share information while protecting patient confidentiality, to leverage critical resources, and to seek out and implement the solutions we need. We’ll work to develop and disseminate best practices; to educate health care professionals and consumers on ways to identify and stop fraud; and to establish an open, ongoing dialogue about emerging trends and evolving threats throughout the national marketplace.
As Secretary Sebelius mentioned, the benefits of sharing claims and health care data across the public and private sectors are clear – and have been widely recognized since the passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996. Under this Administration, federal leaders have worked tirelessly to enhance data sharing between federal partners and our private counterparts. We have succeeded in strengthening the cooperation between public officials and private organizations in this and other areas. And, through these collaborative efforts, we’re taking our prevention and enforcement efforts to a new level.
But we have more to do. This new partnership will allow those on the front lines of industry anti-fraud efforts to share their insights more easily with investigators, prosecutors, policymakers, and other stakeholders. It will help law enforcement officials utilize cutting-edge technologies to more effectively identify and prevent suspicious activities, and to safeguard precious taxpayer resources. And it will enable federal officials to use the full range of tools and authorities provided by the Affordable Care Act and other essential statutes to combat illegal actions and bring offenders to justice.
Perhaps most critically, the Fraud Prevention Partnership will help to extend the extraordinary – and unprecedented – record of achievement that this Administration has established in combating health care fraud. Shortly after taking office, President Obama signaled his strong commitment to this work – and Secretary Sebelius and I pledged to make it a Cabinet-level priority. As part of this promise, more than three years ago, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services launched a joint initiative known as the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team – or, HEAT – to strengthen federal, state, and local partnerships.
Since we convened the first national Health Care Fraud Summit, in January 2010, private sector partners – including some of the leaders in this room – have been an indispensible part of these efforts. Over the past two and a half years, Secretary Sebelius and I have traveled to fraud “hot spots” across the country, meeting with local leaders, raising awareness and learning about common fraud schemes, and bringing additional stakeholders into this work. Thanks to HEAT’s Medicare Strike Forces – and the hard work of U.S. Attorneys and teams of federal agents, investigators, and prosecutors nationwide – during Fiscal Year 2011 alone, health care fraud enforcement actions by the Justice Department and HHS recovered nearly $4.1 billion in cases involving fraud on federal health care programs.
That was a new record. And I’m especially proud that, over the last three years, for every dollar we’ve spent fighting against health care fraud, we’ve returned an average of seven dollars to the U.S. Treasury, the Medicare Trust Fund and others. It’s clear that our approach is working – and that our investments in anti-fraud efforts are yielding extraordinary returns. But – as today’s announcement proves – this is only the beginning.
The Fraud Prevention Partnership underscores this Administration’s determination to build on our most successful efforts – by expanding engagement with industry leaders and experts, and by working with them to hold criminals accountable and seek justice for health care fraud victims. And I’m confident that this new initiative will strengthen our ability to protect the American people from the many of the health care fraud schemes that can devastate lives, undermine the integrity of our health care system, and drive up costs for all consumers.
This work has never been more important – or more urgent. And the national scope of this problem means we need all hands on deck to address it. Fortunately, our determination to tackle the problem of health care has never been stronger. That’s true for every member of this Administration – and for our industry partners in and beyond this room.
On behalf of Secretary Sebelius and our colleagues – and on behalf of President Obama – I’d like to thank them, once again, for their outstanding, and ongoing, contributions. I look forward to where our joint efforts can – and surely will – take us from here.
It’s now my privilege to turn things over to another key leader in this work – Karen Ignagni.