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By Fred Schulte, Center for Public Integrity HHSOIG

Facing major budget and staff cuts, federal officials are scaling back several high-profile health care fraud and abuse investigations, including an audit of the state insurance exchanges that are set to open later this year as a key provision of the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, which investigates Medicare and Medicaid waste, fraud and abuse, is in the process of  losing a total of 400 staffers — or about 20 percent of the workforce — from its peak strength of 1,800 last year. About 200 of those staffers will have departed by the end of this year, and the other 200 are slated to be gone by the end of 2015.

By Fred Schulte, The Center for Public Integrity 

Dr. Farzad Motashari

The nation’s top health information technology official has launched an internal review to determine if electronic health records are prompting some doctors and hospitals to overbill Medicare.

Dr. Farzad Mostashari, the Obama administration’s National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said in an interview Monday afternoon that his policy-setting committee of experts would examine the issue and make recommendations on how to address it. 

By Fred Schulte and Joe Eaton, The Center for Public Integrity 

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder

Top federal officials are stepping up scrutiny  for doctors and hospitals that may be cheating Medicare by using electronic health records to improperly bill the health plan for more complex and costly services than they deliver.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder notified five medical groups of their intention to ramp up investigative oversight, including possible criminal prosecutions, by letter on Monday.