Sebelius enlists beneficiaries in fraud fight

Thursday, October 15, 2009

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Health and Human Service Kathleen Sebelius hasn't forgotten her promise to attack Medicare fraud and abuse.

Sebelius, along with Assistant Attorney General Tony West, today released tips and information aimed at seniors to help them protect themselves against medical identity theft. Medical identity theft occurs when someone steals a patient's personal information, such as his name and Medicare number, and uses the information to obtain medical care, prescriptions, or equipment and supplies, or to fraudulently bill Medicare using that patient's stolen identity.

"When criminals steal from Medicare, they are stealing from all of us," stated Sebelius. "That's why fighting Medicare fraud is one of the Obama Administration`s top priorities."

Beneficiaries are reminded to beware o offers of free medical equipment, services, or goods in exchange for their Medicare numbers. Beneficiaries are also encouraged to regularly review their Medicare Summary Notices, Explanations of Benefits statements, and medical bills for suspicious charges and to report suspected problems.

In May, Attorney General Eric Holder and Sebelius announced the creation of a new interagency effort, the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), to combat Medicare fraud. The HEAT team includes senior officials from DOJ and HHS. HEAT team efforts include the expansion of joint Department of Justice-HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams from South Florida and Los Angeles to additional cities including Detroit and Houston.

To learn more about stopping Medicare fraud, visit To report suspected Medicare fraud call the Inspector General's toll-free Hotline at 800-447-8477 (800-HHS-TIPS). The toll-free TTY number is 800-377-4950.