(Updated with comment from CMS.)
HHS' inspector general's office says the $124 billion Medicare Advantage program is the focus of very few investigations from fraud-hunters—a conclusion that comes on the heels of a string of audits alleging hundreds of millions of dollars of questionable payments in the program.
HHS officials last year published the results of long-running investigations into four Medicare Advantage plans, concluding that the plans had received nearly $600 million more than they should have in 2007 by claiming that patients were more medically complex than they were.
All four companies denied the allegations, but the inspector general's office is continuing with probes of an untold number of the other 170 or so Medicare Advantage companies working for the CMS.
Against the backdrop of $598 million in alleged overpayments in Medicare Advantage, the inspector general's office is releasing an audit this morning that says the outside company hired to investigate potential fraud in Medicare Advantage health plans devotes only a small percentage of its overall efforts to policing the program.