The government recaptured a record $4 billion last year from pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, nursing homes and other providers of care that defrauded federal health-care programs, the Obama administration reported .

During the fiscal year ended in September, the government recovered $4.02 billion from fraud cases completed during that year or in the past. That compares with $2.6 billion recovered in fiscal 2009 and slightly more than $2 billion in 2008. Nearly three-fourths of the total recouped last year was from fraud against Medicare, the federal health insurance for older Americans. The figures also show that the government won court judgments and out-of-court settlements last year amounting to $2.5 billion, although not all that money has been collected.

According to Justice Department statistics, the number of new criminal and civil investigations of potential health-care fraud, most involving Medicare, increased slightly last year. And the number of defendants convicted of such fraud grew to more than 700 in 2010 from fewer than 600 the previous two years.