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Sebelius, Holder: New Health Reform Law Will Help Prevent Medical

By Andrew Villegas

KHN Staff Writer

May 13, 2010

Obama administration officials, touting $2.5 billion recovered from
Medicare overpayments and fraud, immediately turned to talk of how
health reform could ensure bigger successes in the future.

At a news conference Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder said the new law
provides more than $350 million during the next 10 years to fight
fraud. Some of the money will be used to hire new personnel to
scrutinize Medicare and Medicaid advisers, and identify and
investigate schemes. Those caught would face tougher sentences than
they do now.

"There's never been a worse time to try and steal Americans' health
dollars," Sebelius said. "The days when you could just hang out a
shingle and start submitting claims are over." Sebelius said that
doctors, equipment suppliers and other medical providers will soon
face fingerprinting, site visits and criminal background checks before
they can start billing Medicare, Medicaid or the Children's Health
Insurance Program. A new integrated data-sharing system will allow the
Department of Justice to work more closely with HHS. Part of the
effort includes urging consumers to be on the lookout for scams, such
as people who offer "free" medical equipment and then ask for a
Medicare number.

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