CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — In recognition of her efforts to combat health care fraud, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently presented BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s Senior Fraud Investigator Joan Syler, RN, with the Inspector General’s Integrity Award.

The award honors the work of individuals who detect and eliminate health care abuse and fraud, a crime that costs the health care industry an estimated $33 to $55 billion annually.

Senior Investigator Syler was cited for her continuing work with DHHS to fight fraud. Most recently, Syler assisted the United States Attorney’s Office in a successful prosecution that resulted in the conviction of a Tullahoma, Tenn., doctor charged with defrauding health care benefit programs of over $3 million.

During her many investigations Syler collaborates with various agencies, including the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, IRS, Postal Inspector, DHHS, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“It’s a real honor to work with these agencies and to be recognized for my part in the effort to protect the integrity of health care programs,” Syler said. “Health care fraud is a serious crime that not only causes great financial loss but also jeopardizes the health care of patients.”

In 2001, Syler earned a certificate of commendation from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the successful prosecution of another health care fraud case involving a Tennessee physician.

Syler joined BlueCross in 1996 as a supervisor of the Medicare medical review and appeals department. She moved to the special investigations unit in 1998 where she is responsible for detecting and investigating suspected cases of health care fraud.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.