Monday, May 16, 2005

FBI Can't Account for its Budget to Fight Health Care Fraud

The NY Times reports that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been unable to account how it spent money allocated to investigate health care fraud. A 1996 law set aside money for the agency to address fraud against Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs. But in response to a request from Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the Government Accountability Office found that the FBI "had no effective mechanism in place" to ensure its own compliance with the 1996 law. It also claimed that FBI agents were shifted from addressing health care fraud to counter-terrorism after Sept. 11, 2001. Grassley responded, "It's inexcusable that the government cannot account for millions of dollars set aside to fight health care fraud."
It's sadly ironic that a program meant to fight white-collar financial crime cannot account for its own financing of this effort.
This does seem to fit the disturbing pattern we have noted again and again on Health Care Renewal. "The anechoic effect" is the label Russ Maulitz gave to the silence and indifference with which the mismanagement, or even outright corruption of health care organizations is greeted.
At least the FBI seemed a bit sheepish about how it has been dealing with health care fraud. Its chief financial officer claimed that it is now "one of its top white-collar criminal investigative priorities." We look forward to the echoes.

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