Fla. Medicare fraud flourished under lax oversight

Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald followed up on the Herald‘s investigations into widespread Medicare fraud in South Florida. Weaver found that when 18 shuttered providers appealed to Medicare, they were reinstated only to turn around and further defraud the government of at least $5 million, much of which may never be recovered.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General cited the 18 medical equipment suppliers in a critical report concluding that Medicare’s appeals system was flawed because it lacked strict rules of evidence. Medicare officials don’t disagree.

”It’s always troubling when you have 18 reinstated like that,” acknowledged Kimberly Brandt, Medicare’s anti-fraud director. “They may have gotten back in, but they didn’t get back in for a very long time. That doesn’t mean we couldn’t have been more vigilant.”

Weaver reports that, six months later, officials have yet to put rules in place to prevent suspected fraudulent equipment operators from regaining billing priviliges.

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