The cases of COVID-19 healthcare fraud are increasing daily in the USA. Most of these cases involve fake vaccination records and counterfeited medical supplies. However, cases pertaining to the above have been around in the country for a very long time, much before the arrival of the global pandemic and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Both state and federal law enforcement agencies have increased their vigilance and crack down on fraudsters engaged in healthcare fraud in the USA.
John LeBlanc of Manatt explains the depth of the issue
John LeBlanc is a Los Angeles based lawyer and a partner with national healthcare litigation firm Manatt, Phelps & Philips. With the addition of fraud linked to government relief programs like PRF, the instances of counterfeit claims have also risen. They include fraudulent vaccines, medical supplies, and a surge in fake vaccination records. Counterfeit items are a dangerous threat to the total safety and health of the public at large, especially with serious concerns over the transmissions of the new COVID-19 variants that are already on a surge in the nation.
John LeBlanc of Manatt says, “The global pandemic highlighted many weaknesses in the systems that serve humanity, healthcare being the most affected,” and adds, “Healthcare fraud was the most significant source of illicit funds in the nation with over $100B in proceeds and accounted for more than 35% of all illegal proceeds laundered in the United States.”
With the advancement of technology comes the increase of fraud. The current situation is bad in the nation, and the major offenders of healthcare fraud are doctors and other medical professionals that have direct access to the nation’s healthcare systems. This enables them to execute legitimate activities that regularly go undetected. This trend is now putting pressure on authorities to beef up their internal controls when dealing with assessments and risk management improvement techniques.
The Dangers of Healthcare Fraud to the Society
Healthcare fraud linked to COVID-19 is very dangerous and poses a big threat to society at large. The government agencies that are proactively involved when it comes to the detection and elimination of these threats are the United States Department of Justice, The Department of Homeland Security, and the US Customs and Border Protection. In addition to the above, the DOJ’s International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Program are also coordinating with their foreign counterparts to help crackdown scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In short, just as the government of the USA develops and disseminates helpful and good assistance to medical establishments for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, those who would proceed to cheat this system did what Deep Throat recommended in the Watergate Days- “follow the money.” Healthcare practitioners and patients are advised to be aware of those who want to cheat the system to illicitly put the government’s money into their own pockets.
John LeBlanc of Manatt says, “As businesses make return-to-work plans and schools across the nation emerge from virtual learning programs, identifying and removing counterfeit medical supplies from hospitals and healthcare facilities is critical to properly and effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in these spaces.”