MEDICARE: Overpaying for Blood-Glucose Test
Medicare's spending increase on blood-glucose test strips has raised red flags at the Inspector General's office, where a recent report documented that $79 million was spent for patients who may be ineligible for benefits or who don't use the strips at all, the Wall Street Journal reports. In 1997, Medicare spent $220 million on the test strips that diabetics use to monitor their blood glucose levels, more than doubling the $102 million spent in 1994. The Office of the Inspector General found that 25% of the claims did not have complete paperwork proving Medicare eligibility, and 21% had incomplete orders or no supplier delivery records. Alwyn Cassil, spokesperson for the Inspector General's office, said "We want the beneficiaries who are eligible to receive these very important services, but we want to be sure we are paying for only appropriate claims." The report recommends that HCFA work more closely with suppliers and beneficiaries on documentation. A second OIG report revealed that some diabetes supply companies attract beneficiaries who receive the test strips by promising not to collect co-payments, while others continue to automatically send strips to beneficiaries despite the ban on this practice in 1998 (Bowean, 6/29).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.