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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Headline News for Insurance Agents from NAHU

Proposed House Bill Would Double Penalties For Medicare Fraud.

The AP (4/14, Kennedy) reports, "Medicare fraud suspects would face longer prison sentences under a US House bill proposed Tuesday that also advocates biotechnology such as fingerprint scanning to ensure patients are getting the goods the government is billed for." Law enforcement officials "have warned Medicare fraud, an estimated $60 billion annual crime, is now more lucrative than dealing drugs. Until now the penalties have been far less severe." But, the "Medicare Fraud Enforcement and Prevention Act will double prison sentences from 5 to 10 years and fines from $25,000 to $50,000 for Medicare fraud-related crimes," and "create a new crime for illegally distributing patients' Medicare or Medicaid IDs or billing information, which would carry a maximum 3-year sentence."
The Palm Beach Post (FL) (4/14, Lantigua) reports, "In the heart of the Medicare fraud capital of the nation, two South Florida members of Congress declared war Tuesday. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) and Ron Klein (D-Boca Raton) said they are presenting bi-partisan legislation aimed at criminals who steal billions of dollars from Medicare every year." Data show that "in South Florida alone, $952 million in false Medicare claims were filed last year by clinic owners, medical equipment vendors and medical personnel, almost all in Miami-Dade."
The South Florida Business Journal (4/14, Bandell) calls the bill "one of the first bipartisan efforts since the divisive passage of federal health care reform," and says that "there has been an increase in fraud, despite the efforts of a federal health care fraud task force, which has prosecuted more than 800 people and identified more than $2.5 billion in fraudulent claims since it started in 2006." Under the bill, HHS "would be required to provide law enforcement officials with real-time access to Medicare data, and immediately alert them to suspicious activity." The measure "would require the Government Accountability review the performance of the contractors who handle Medicare's billing system."

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