Medicare fraud included phantom services, equipment

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 Updated:

A sampling of Medicare providers who were overpaid by $206 million in 2007-08 showed some billed the government for phantom services or for equipment that was not medically necessary, a watchdog report found.

Other providers billed Medicare even though they had vacant offices and were clearly not offering services to patients, according to the Health and Human Services Department inspector general The new health care reform law, says that Medicare must consult with its inspector general to determine whether allegations of fraud exist. The watchdog agreed with the allegations by Medicare and Medicaid Services in 74 percent of the cases.

The inspector general also criticized the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which regulates the government health insurance programs, for having incomplete guidelines for suspending providers.

FAST FACT: Some 79 percent of the providers whose payments were suspended due to suspected fraud came from just four states: Florida, Puerto Rico, California, and Michigan. Over half of the providers were located in U.S. Attorney districts that have set up a Medicare fraud team.

Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities. Congressional Research Service reports, which prepared for lawmakers but not made public, were provided by the Center for Democracy and Technology.

NATIONAL SECURITY

  • Climate change, arms control and U.S. engagement with Pakistan, Afghanistan and China remain hurdles in strengthening the U.S.-India relationship. Increasingly, the countries are cooperating with each other through military exercises and counterterrorism efforts.(Congressional Research Service).

HEALTH

  • Federally-subsidized meals served to kids and adults at day care facilities should include more vegetables and fruits, and less fat, salt, and added sugars (Institute of Medicine).

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