Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why We Must Stop Fraud

One thing that I can safely say is that nearly all HME providers are, without any doubt, the most honest people providing health care supplies and services. Despite this, because of a few crooked operations they are smeared and in a feeble attempt to save dollars a “competitive bid” program was passed by Congress.

In Miami, vans bringing senior citizens to group health therapy programs managed to milk out 83 million unearned dollars. But these are not HME providers. Most of the theft is from operators (thieves) who build phony companies to be able to steal from the system. The returns they get are phenomenal.

A gang of Eastern European professionals (thieves) opened up “offices” (which were only telephones) in several states and using names taken from tombstones and doctors long retired managed to steal another couple of million dollars before they were caught. I guess they were deported and took home the loot!

The Medicare program currently costs the government about $500 billion (a great deal of money). I estimate, from what we see published in the newspapers, that perhaps as much as 40% of that total is being ripped off. I am not alone in trying to determine how much money is stolen. Senator Tom Coburn believes fraud and abuse to be about $60 billion.

Why is there so much fraud? The answer simply is that there are very few people policing the system. They are now trying to lock the barn door, but the cow has already been stolen. A strong effort must be made to train inspectors who can visit every company billing services to Medicare. This cost would be far less than what is being stolen and the end result would be that the legitimate dealers would be able to continue to service their communities.

If the "competitive bid” forces many fine companies to close their doors the rolls of unemployed would grow and the flow of tax dollars collected would dry. A double whammy.

At Medtrade Spring, a great deal of time will be spent showing attendees what they can do to stop fraud and abuse. The national and state associations will have booths. VGM has been a leader and it will be there as well as some of the other buying groups working for the industry. You must be there as well! By working together we can stop a great deal of this fraud and abuse!

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