Dishonest businessmen and scam artists are becoming more and more secretive and complex in their ways of committing fraud against taxpayer-funded Medicare and Medicaid. In one example, a man would enter apartments in Delaware and ask to speak with elderly residents in order to “educate” them on the different types of medical equipment available to them. Instead, he would sometimes forcibly fit them for different types of equipment like walkers, wheelchairs or scooters even if they didn’t need them. After the fitting, he pressured these folks into handing over their Medicare and supplemental insurance account numbers. The equipment was either never delivered to the person or completely unnecessary in the first place.
“When we have estimates of more than $47 billion in overpayments, and potentially tens of billions of dollars in fraud within Medicare and Medicaid, there is a lot of opportunity to improve the way government oversees these vital health care programs”, said Delaware’s Democratic Senator Tom Carper.
I couldn’t agree with him more. $47 billion is an incredible amount of money not to be accounted for. We already have so many problems with Medicare in our country; you’d think the government would make it a priority to make sure tens of billions of dollars weren’t going down the drain. This is a valuable amount of money that health officials could really do a lot with. I don’t even want to think about the potential good that could be coming from this $47 billion because it’s too depressing to realize the fact that the money is in the hands of those with bad intentions.
The good news is that the Department of Justice did recover $4 billion of this money in the 2010 fiscal year; a 57% increase over 2009. In addition the government won 726 convictions against criminals cheating the system. Greg Andres, the acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice said it’s difficult to always recover the money lost because “a lot of times the funds have been dissipated”.
Let’s just hope the government continues to increase the amount of funds they’re able to recover and that they can catch on to the conniving, manipulative ways the “businessmen” who commit Medicare and Medicaid fraud use in order to protect our government’s valuable funding.