HHS Launches Fraud Patrol

Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala announced yesterday a $2 million, 12 site anti-fraud demonstration project. The two-year program will recruit and train retired professionals -- doctors, nurses, accountants, attorneys, teachers and others -- to work with Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to identify fraud, waste and abuse in the government health programs.

The retired volunteers will work in their local communities and in senior centers to help identify deceptive health care practices, such as overbilling, overcharging and providing unnecessary services.

"We know that in order for our anti-fraud efforts to really pay off, we need to look beyond Washington, and there is no better way to do this than to help older volunteers across the country to become the eyes and ears of our communities," Shalala said.

The Health Care Anti-Fraud, Waste and Abuse Community Volunteers Demonstration Projects are being created under legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). The programs are expected to complement the national Operation Restore Trust anti-fraud campaign, "and will help older Americans to have the information they need to identify and report potential fraudulent practices, Secretary Shalala said."

Local area aging agencies, health care centers and senior groups will collaborate on the efforts.

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