Medicare Paid $100 Million to Dead Doctors
Jane Zhang reported the findings of a recent Senate investigation in the Wall Street Journal (July 9, 2008). Zhang reported approximately one-half million claims had been filed under the names of approximately 17,000 dead physicians. These fraudulent claims were paid by Medicare, totaling nearly $100 million between 2000 and 2007. Zhang noted the amount of dollars Medicare spent could actually be greater, as the claims were only counted as of one year after the physicians died. The same report noted that 16% of the fraudulent claims were based on doctors dead for more than 10 years. To help remedy this situation, Medicare will soon get updates as to who is alive and who is not, from the Social Security Administration's "Death Master File."
The agency that oversees Medicare is the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS reported Medicare improperly paid $12 billion in 2005, and some $22 billion in 2004. Further, in 2001, the HHS Inspector General's Office determined that Medicare paid $91 million in 1999 for equipment and supplies, for providers no longer enrolled in Medicare.
Senator Levin (Democrat, Michigan) noted, "The slipshod procedures that let these claims get through are an insult to U.S. taxpayers." He said, "It is long overdue to shut the door on this multi-million dollar abuse."
For More Information, References and Recommendations:
Zhang, J. (2008): Medicare Paid $100 Million to Scams Using Dead Doctors. Wall Street Journal. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 Page A2