GAO: Fake Companies Approved Under Medicare Program
The government is putting millions of Medicare dollars at risk by allowing phony sellers of wheelchairs, prosthetics and other medical supplies to submit reimbursement claims, according to a Government Accountability Office report released today.
Government investigators uncovered the weakness in accounting controls when they sought to follow up on oversight gaps that have plagued the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services since at least 2005, The Associated Press' Hope Yen reports. Roughly $1 billion of the $10 billion in annual Medicare payments the government makes for medical equipment were deemed improper.
Two sham companies that the GAO set up to test the system during the past year were approved for payments, even though they lacked clients or any medical inventory, the report says.
Investigators claim that the fake companies easily could have been uncovered: A telephone number given to Medicare staffers rang to an unmanned telephone in the GAO building.
"Had our operation continued successfully, we could have fraudulently billed Medicare for substantial sums -- potentially reaching millions of dollars," the report says.
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