The government says it recovered $2.5 billion in overpayments for the Medicare trust fund last year as the Obama administration focused attention on fraud enforcement efforts in the health care industry.
In a report, the Justice Department and the Health and Human Services Department say their cooperative efforts are showing results as they put investigative resources in areas where health care fraud is especially widespread, including south Florida; Los Angeles; Houston; Detroit; New York City's Brooklyn borough; Baton Rouge, La.; and Tampa, Fla.
The result is a rising number of criminal prosecutions and the return of more stolen money to the government.
At the same time, federal investigators are blocking unscrupulous companies from getting into government health care programs in the first place.
For the fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30, the federal government won or negotiated $1.63 billion in judgments and settlements, and investigators opened 1,014 new criminal health care fraud investigations involving 1,786 defendants.
Most of those figures are up from 2008, when the government won or negotiated $1 billion in judgments and settlements, and investigators opened 957 new criminal health care fraud investigations involving 1,641 potential defendants.
In 2008, the recoveries for the Medicare Trust Fund totaled $1.9 billion.