WHEELING, W.Va. – A new initiative to combat health care fraud in West Virginia was launched today in
Wheeling, according to United States Attorney William Ihlenfeld.
State and federal agencies gathered at the U.S. Attorney’s office this morning for the first meeting of the Mountaineer Health Care Fraud Strike Force, a unit that will take a data-driven approach to uncovering waste and abuse.
Representatives from seven different agencies discussed fraudulent billing patterns and new targets were identified as a result. In addition to its analytical work, the Strike Force will engage with providers and insurers so that there is a better understanding on how to recognize and report health care fraud.
“The time I spent in the private sector opened my eyes to the scope of the health care fraud that is occurring in West Virginia,” said Ihlenfeld. “It made me realize that more can and should be done by law enforcement, which is why this new group has been formed.”
Ihlenfeld stressed the importance of whistleblowers and the impact that they can have upon uncovering fraud.
“Oftentimes the first person to witness fraud is an employee of a hospital or a doctor’s office,” Ihlenfeld remarked. “Those who blow the whistle and expose conduct that the government was not able to detect on its own are awarded a portion of the amount recovered, and those awards can be substantial.”
Last year, a whistleblower was awarded $10 million in the matter of U.S. ex rel. Longo v. Wheeling Hospital, Inc.
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A new hotline, email address and mailing address have been established to allow for the reporting of potential fraud. Anyone
with information may call (304) 234-7711, send an email to email@example.com, or mail correspondence to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Attn: Mountaineer HCF Strike Force, P.O. Box 591, Wheeling, WV 26003