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Health Care Fraud Takes Many Forms
CNBC.com | April 09, 2012 | 03:36 PM EDT

From an artificial leg for a patient fully capable of walking on her own to doling out cash kickbacks to the homeless and billing Medicare for home health care, health care fraud takes many forms.

The conservative annual estimate of health care fraud in the U.S. is $80 billion, with some estimates twice that amount.

In fiscal 2011, $4.1 billion in fraudulent claims was recovered by authorities, according to the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS).

Still, officials say, the battle against health care fraud is never ending.

“Every day there’s a new scheme that’s popping up, and so we’re refocusing our attention in certain areas as we learn about them,” said Gary Cantrell, inspector general for investigations at Health and Human Services .

Since 2009, the fight against health care fraud has been led by the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), made up of nine joint strike forces across the country. Each HEAT team combines federal, state and local investigators collaborating to combat Medicare fraud.

CNBC’s Investigations Inc. team spent six months with agents from the New York office of HHS’ inspector general’s office taking part in the HEAT initiative in some of the nation’s hot spots for health care fraud.

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