U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder today sent a letter to state attorneys general urging them to work with HHS and federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to mount a substantial outreach campaign to educate seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries about how to prevent scams and fraud beginning this summer. The outreach campaign is another step in the ongoing work of the Health Care Fraud Prevention Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a cabinet-level initiative launch by HHS and DOJ in May 2009.
“We are heading into the week when our first tax-free $250 donut hole rebate checks will be mailed out to Medicare beneficiaries who have fallen into the coverage gap. Accordingly, we are especially concerned about fraud and increased activity by criminals seeking to defraud seniors – and we are seeking your help to stop it,” said Secretary Sebelius and Attorney General Holder in the letter. “Building on our record of aggressive action, we will use the new tools and resources provided by the Affordable Care Act to further crack down on fraud.”
In the letter, the Secretary and Attorney General outline education and outreach efforts where state attorneys general could make a big difference. These include efforts to cut the improper payment rate, which tracks fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare Fee for Service program, in half by 2012; a series of regional fraud prevention summits around the country over the next few months; regular health care fraud task force meetings to facilitate the exchange of information with partners in the public and private sector, and to help coordinate anti-fraud effort; HHS’s plans to double the size of the Senior Medicare Patrol and to put more boots on the ground in the fight against Medicare fraud; and a new educational media campaign this summer to educate Medicare beneficiaries about how to protect themselves against fraud.