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Fake companies steal billions from Medicare ?An ab solute disgrace?

Von: Raymond (bluerhymer@aol.com) [Profil]
Datum: 23.05.2010 15:10
Message-ID: <1c653f9e-433b-4c30-ba8c-86c497dc0200@m33g2000vbi.googlegroups.com>
Newsgroup: alt.politics alt.health alt.politics.bush
Fake companies steal billions from Medicare

By Mark Potter, NBC News Correspondent

MIAMI – A short while ago, while reporting on Medicare fraud – an
outrageous $60 billion a year pilferage of America's social safety net
for 43 million seniors and the disabled – I took one of those phone
calls that stop you right in your tracks.

The caller was a federal law enforcement official who has spent much
of his career fighting health care theft. He said a man that he and
other authorities had been chasing for allegedly running a crooked
medical supply company and bilking Medicare had just had an
unfortunate run-in with police near Miami.

He and another man were confronted by officers who suspected them of
breaking into cars outside a gaming resort. The other man was
arrested, but, according to authorities, the one suspected of Medicare
theft ran and dove into a lake, where he was promptly attacked and
killed by an alligator! What??

Of course, upon hearing this I thought it was a joke and shouted,
"You've got to be kidding!" He wasn't. It was true – the sort of
morality tale, it seems, you can only hear in Florida.

As outlandish and unbelievable as that story was, however, it actually
pales in comparison to the reality of the brazen, organized and
widespread looting of Medicare, which seems all-too-easy prey for
criminals hiding behind phony medical supply companies and clinics.

Often they pay off busloads of patients, along with unscrupulous
doctors, to assure their cooperation. And in the process, they
threaten the future of the already-stressed Medicare system and harm
millions of honest patients, physicians and other legitimate health
care providers.

Billing Medicare for millions, and getting paid
In Miami-Dade County, where Medicare fraud is considered the worst in
the country by federal officials, you can actually go to certain
buildings or shopping centers and see row after row of offices or
storefronts that purport to be legitimate medical companies.

FBI agents and prosecutors point out that often these offices are just
empty "fronts" or shell companies that only exist to steal from
Medicare. They do not have one thing to do with actual health care,
but they each bill Medicare for millions of dollars.

Delving into this morass, you see some disturbing things: low-life
criminals living in mansions, wearing fancy jewelry and driving luxury
cars bought with Medicare funds; AIDS patients taking money to sit for
phony intravenous treatments so the clinic owners can over bill
Medicare; and dangerous "medicines" given to the public and billed to
Medicare that were homemade in the back of pharmacies by people who
have no medical training. Federal officials say one of those people
was actually an air-conditioning repairman.

One purported medical company CEO turned out to be a worker at a tire
repair shop. He'd been paid by criminals for the use of his name on
the corporate records. Officials say he had enough money in his bank
account to fund a federal anti-fraud strike force for six months.

‘An absolute disgrace’
One afternoon, we sat with an 82-year-old woman named Muriel Sherman.
Someone stole her patient number, and in the last few years Medicare
has been billed for tens of thousands of dollars in her name for
treatments and medicines she never got and doesn't need.

On the books, it would appear she has AIDS and diabetes, is missing an
eye, has artificial knees and elbows, needs a wheelchair and is taking
enough medication to kill her on the spot – NONE of which is true.

Muriel is just furious, and has actually gone out on her own to
confront the medical supply companies listed on her explanation of
benefits (EOB) statements, to no avail. "It's an absolute disgrace
that they put on all those things," she said.

Sadly, there are thousands more victims just like her, preyed upon by
criminals stealing billions each year from American taxpayers. As
experts debate how to fix this enormous problem, it's easy to think
again about that alligator.

See more of Mark Potter's reporting on Medicare fraud on NBC Nightly
News with Brian Williams.

Also see: Medicare Fraud: A $60 Billion Crime - 60 Minutes - CBS News
The hospital billed Medicare for acute patient care that was not
medically necessary. ...When we reviewed the bill there was fraud by
Medicare. .  In Massachusetts, 87 hospitals agreed to pay more than
$3.5 million .....Delving into this morass, you see some disturbing
things: low-life criminals living in mansions, wearing fancy jewelry
and driving luxury cars bought with Medicare funds...

When you check out of a hospital demand a printout of services
performed and proofread all printouts  for errors and for services not
performed.  Criminals steal billions of dollars from Medicare each
year and get away with it....'60 Minutes': Medicare Fraud Raises
'Troubling Questions....After your hospital visit has ended, pick up a
current print out You may be surprised at what you were charged
for....Those who commit health care fraud will not be allowed to steal
money only if you report them....Get the Facts ...

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