March 13, 2009

Report points out U.S. healthcare fraud

A U.S. government agency says fraud and abuse are partly responsible for a 44 percent increase in Medicare spending on home health services between 2002-2006.

In a study issued Friday, the Government Accountability Office said some home healthcare providers exaggerated patients' medical conditions while others billed for unnecessary care or services they didn't provide, USA Today reported.

The fraud review was requested by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

Every home healthcare dollar that's lost to fraud or improper payments is a dollar that doesn't go to necessary care and a better quality of life for older Americans, said Grassley.

Spending on home healthcare reached $13 billion in 2006 while the number of Medicare patients using in-home services was 2.8 million.

The GAO recommends that the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services consider doing criminal background checks on home health operators and draft new rules aimed at removing problem providers quickly.