Categorized | Colorado News, National News, News

$ 1.7 Billion Medicare Orthopedic Brace Scam Foiled

Perpetrators peddled unneeded orthopedic braces to hundreds of thousands of seniors via foreign call centers.

The Health and Human Services inspector general’s office said the fast-moving scam morphed into multiple related schemes, fueled by kickbacks among the parties involved. The FBI, the IRS, and 17 U.S. attorney’s offices took part in the crackdown. 24 arrests were made Tuesday morning.

Medicare’s anti-fraud unit said it’s taking action against 130 medical equipment companies implicated. They billed the program a total of $1.7 billion, of which more than $900 million was paid out.

Telemarketers would reach out to seniors offering “free” orthopedic braces, also touted through television and radio ads. Beneficiaries who expressed interest would be patched through to call centers involved in the scheme. Officials described an “international telemarketing network” with call centers in the Philippines and throughout Latin America.

The call centers would verify seniors’ Medicare coverage and transfer them to telemedicine companies for consultations with doctors. The doctors would write prescriptions for orthopedic braces, regardless of whether the patients needed them or not. In some cases several braces were prescribed for the same patient.

The call centers would collect prescriptions and sell them to medical equipment companies, which would ship the braces to beneficiaries and bill Medicare. Medical equipment companies would get $500 to $900 per brace from Medicare and would pay kickbacks of nearly $300 per brace.

Source: Associated Press story in The Denver Post

 

 

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