HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks at a news conference about health care innovation under the Affordable Care Act in Washington on November 14, 2011. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Healthcare fraud prevention and enforcement efforts recovered a record-breaking $4.1 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars, federal officials said Tuesday.
The money recovered in fiscal year 2011 was from individuals and companies that tried to cheat seniors and taxpayers or who tried to receive healthcare-related payments to which they were not entitled, the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services said in a release.
The success of recovery efforts, outlined in the annual Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program report, was attributed to several factors, officials said, including the Obama administration prioritizing the elimination of fraud, waste and abuse.
"This report reflects unprecedented successes by the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services in aggressively preventing and combating health care fraud, safeguarding precious taxpayer dollars and ensuring the strength of our essential health care programs," said U.S. Attorney General Holder.
Approximately $4.1 billion stolen or otherwise fraudulently obtained from federal healthcare programs was recovered and returned to the Medicare Trust Funds, the Treasury and others in FY 2011, officials said. The two departments ran a joint program to coordinate federal, state and local law enforcement activities to fight healthcare fraud and abuse.
Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against 1,430 defendants for healthcare fraud-related crimes and 743 defendants were convicted, officials said
In criminal matters involving the pharmaceutical and device manufacturing industry, the Justice Department obtained 21 criminal convictions and $1.3 billion in criminal fines, forfeitures, restitution and disgorgement under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
The departments reported recovering about $2.4 billion through civil healthcare fraud enforcement brought under the False Claims Act.
"Fighting fraud is one of our top priorities and we have recovered an unprecedented number of taxpayer dollars," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.