Report: Medicare Fraud Widespread Among L.A. County Device Suppliers
Medicare fraud investigators found persistent corruption among medical equipment suppliers in Los Angeles County, according to a federal report scheduled be released today, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Investigators reviewed 905 county suppliers and found that 115 addresses listed as medical equipment providers' offices were closed or vacant buildings, or listed under the addresses of other businesses, the report by the HHS Office of Inspector General states.
Investigators found more than $300 million in potentially fraudulent billing in the last two years, with some cases involving non-English speaking Medicare beneficiaries who were billed for equipment that they did not need or receive.
According to the report, 83 medical device suppliers in Los Angeles County lost their eligibility to participate in Medicare in the year before April 2007, accounting for a large share of California's total of 123 such cases.
The report recommends that Medicare managers:
- Reduce supplier fraud with more frequent inspections;
- Require suppliers to pay for and pass a federal background check and maintain certain levels of supplies;
- Charge suppliers who are not found during inspections; and
- Limit the number of suppliers in high-fraud areas (Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, 3/3).