According to a report published today, the DOJ’s Health Care Corporate Strike Force is a shell of its former self under the new administration. The report notes that the highly specialized group of prosecutors in Washington was dedicated to “working on . . . the most complex corporate fraud cases in the health care space,” “focus[ing] resources in investigation and prosecution of larger corporate health care law violations, as opposed to smaller groups or individuals.” The Strike Force is now reportedly operating at less than 50% capacity, with even those prosecutors remaining on the Strike Force splitting their time with other duties.
As I’ve previously discussed, many observers feared that AG Sessions’ renewed focus on violent crimes, drugs and illegal immigration would diminish resources available for investigating and prosecuting white collar crimes. While the Attorney General went out of his way to deny that, it appears the Health Care Corporate Strike Force may be a casualty of the new administration’s priorities.
Whether the Strike Force prosecutors were reassigned based on the revised DOJ agenda or because of the Criminal Division’s hiring freeze which makes it impossible to address normal turnover without moving people around, the slashed Strike Force will have a far diminished capacity to meet its goal of government oversight of corporate fraud in the health care arena.
Expect to see fewer investigations and prosecutions of fraud affecting the biggest industry players. Whether the trend trickles down to smaller organizations and individual medical professionals remains to be seen.