Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) said its fraud program collected $135 million in fiscal year 2006, a 29 percent increase over the previous year.
In addition, the department recovered another $33 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2007, ending in September. This was a 4 percent increase over the same quarter a year ago.
The collections amount to about $10 for every dollar spent on L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Compliance Program. Money recovered comes from fraud, as well as delinquent workers’ compensation premiums and improper payments to health-care providers and workers.
In fiscal 2006, L&I also referred 20 cases for prosecution — seven employers, two health-care providers and 11 workers — and avoided an estimated $16 million in costs by uncovering and stopping payments being made as a result of fraud or abuse.
“Getting tough on fraud is the right thing to do, and we’re pleased our increased efforts are paying off,” said Carl Hammersburg, manager of the L&I program. “It’s important to protect the fairness and integrity of the workers’ compensation system, and to protect the economic vitality of the majority of businesses in Washington who follow the
*rules and pay their fair share for workers’ comp insurance.”
Hammersburg said the increased collections come for a variety of reasons, including:
*Stepping up fraud-fighting efforts in the construction industry to find contractors that are unregistered or not paying workers’ compensation insurance.
*Developing a new automated telephone system to make early contact with individuals owing money.
Streamlining the audit process to make it less time-consuming for employers.
*Improving cross-program communications within L&I and with other state and federal agencies.
L&I’s fraud Web site, www.Fraud.LNI.wa.gov, includes an online form for reporting fraud, or people can call the fraud hotline at 888-811-5974.
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