MEDICARE FRAUD: Bill Forces Feds to Copy Seized Records
Rep. James Walsh (R-N.Y.) has introduced a bill in the House that would require the federal government to make copies of medical records it seizes during fraud investigations and return them to the hospitals within 48 hours. If enacted, the bill would make federal prosecutors responsible for covering the cost of duplicating the seized medical records, and failure to return the copies to their original source within 48 hours could result in civil damages of $1,000 for each 24-hour delay. The Syracuse Post-Standard reports that, as the number of crackdowns on Medicare fraud increases nationwide, a growing number of charts, files and billing records are "being locked away in evidence rooms," posing a safety risk to patients, particularly coronary surgery patients who "frequently" require emergency attention shortly after discharge. "You have to protect the patients, and if the doctors can't get to the records, they can't treat their patients. It's basically a patients' protection bill," Walsh said. A spokesperson said the Justice Department has not taken a position on the proposed legislation (Libbon, 8/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.