Sen. Martinez wants investigation into Medicare fraud
.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) called the latest analysis of Medicare durable medical equipment (DME) claims in South Florida a clear sign that major fraud is taking place and further action must be taken by the Federal government. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)-Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report revealing that while only 2 percent of Medicare beneficiaries reside in South Florida, it ranked highest in reimbursement for one DME-related item, inhalation drugs.
“HHS-OIG’s findings are proof that investigations must take place immediately to determine whether our South Florida patients are being taken advantage of and to what extent,” said Martinez, Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “These findings are confirmation that not enough is being done to detect and prevent the waste of taxpayer dollars.”
The HHS-OIG report found that Medicare paid almost $143 million for inhalation drugs in Miami-Dade County, Florida alone – the reimbursement was almost 20 times higher than that of the second highest county in the United States, Cook County, Illinois. However, according to Medicare enrollment data, Cook County is home to almost twice as many Medicare beneficiaries as Miami-Dade County. Additionally, almost two-thirds of South Florida claims for inhalation drugs did not appear to involve a physician office visit for at least 3 years.
“Health reform starts with eliminating the obvious fraud and abuse from the system,” Martinez said. “I am holding a committee hearing on May 6th to investigate these abuses and fraudulent billings within our Medicare System.” Martinez said. “It’s clear that we must step-up our efforts to not only detect fraud, but prevent this egregious waste.”
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