Government Recoups Record $4 Billion from Healthcare Defrauders


By: Linda von Wartburg

During 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Attorney General’s office recovered $4 billion related to healthcare fraud. According to the HHS press release, this record sum was due to “President Obama making the elimination of fraud, waste, and abuse a top priority in his administration” and the 2009 creation of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT). They will do even better in the future, said the press release, “with the new tools and resources provided by the Affordable Care Act.”

Part of the money came from Medicare thieves:  HEAT issued 140 indictments against 284 defendants who fraudulently billed Medicare more than $590 million. A sizeable portion of the $4 billion, however, came from pharmaceutical companies.

Allergan Inc. is paying the government $600 million because it  marketed Botox for treatment of headaches and other issues that were not approved by the FDA. Novartis is paying $422.5 million to resolve allegations of illegal marketing of certain pharmaceutical products. AstraZeneca is paying $520 million to resolve allegations that it marketed the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel for unapproved uses and paid kickbacks.



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