HHS Targets Medicare Fraud in South Florida, Southern California
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced a two-year effort designed to further protect Medicare beneficiaries from fraudulent suppliers of durable medical equipment, prosthetics and orthotics supplies (DMEPOS). The initiative is focused on preventing deceptive companies from operating in South Florida and Southern California.
"Eliminating fraudulent suppliers in Medicare protects America's seniors and enhances their quality of care," Secretary Leavitt said. "This initiative is aimed at doing just that - stopping durable medical equipment fraud before it happens."
Miami and Los Angeles have been identified as high-risk areas when it comes to fraudulent billing by DMEPOS suppliers. HHS, working with the Department of Justice (DOJ), formed a Medicare Fraud Strike Force to combat fraud through the use of real-time analysis of Medicare billing data. In just three months, 56 individuals have been charged in the Southern District of Florida with fraudulently billing Medicare for more than $258 million. The strike force is made up of federal, state and local investigators.
Last December federal officials contracted with the National Supplier Clearinghouse to conduct visits to 1,472 South Florida DMEPOS suppliers. Through on site investigations, 634 supplier billing numbers were revoked, saving Medicare a projected $317 million. Examples of products that are being billed at higher than normal rates are motorized wheelchairs; nebulizers and aerosol medications; artificial limbs; and wound therapy treatments.