S. 1843 seeks to amend the federal criminal code to revise the elements of the crime of health care fraud. In addition, the bill also imposes a mandatory minimum penalty of six months imprisonment in cases where the health care fraud results in losses of $100,000 or more. NACDL opposes S. 1843 and believes that the proposed mandatory minimum is an ineffective and costly perpetuation of unjust sentencing.
The current Sentencing Guidelines in this area, U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1, already provide for far longer sentences, starting at 18 months in the case of health care fraud involving more than $70,000 and 24 months if the fraud involves $120,000 or more, than the proposed mandatory minimum. No evidence has been brought forward showing that these current punishments are ineffective or in need of revision. By eliminating judicial discretion in the sentencing process for yet another class of criminal offenses, S. 1843 further perpetuates the adoption of a “one-size-fits-all” approach to criminal punishment and prevents the consideration of factors such as the individual’s role in the offense, actual blameworthiness, motive, and level of cooperation. As a result, the bill’s mandatory minimum will produce many sentences that are longer than the interests of justice demand, remove greater numbers of productive citizens from society, and unnecessarily imprison them at taxpayers’ expense.
S. 1843 was introduced to the Senate by Senator Arlen Specter on October 22, 2009 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. On December 2, 2009, Senator Specter filed Amendment 2787, which includes text identical to S. 1843, to the Senate healthcare bill. NACDL and our allies successfully kept this amendment from moving forward and it did not become part of the final health care bill passed out of the Senate. The original bill, however, is still pending before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Resources on S. 1843
NACDL and Heritage Foundation Mandatory Minimum Opposition Handout