Letter to the Editor, published August 7, 2008 in response to the Miami Heralds series on Medicare Fraud.
Don't ignore Medicare fraud
Several points in The Miami Herald's series on Medicare fraud merit attention. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently canceled an accreditation deadline -- which is certainly an anti-fraud measure -- for suppliers of durable medical equipment -- oxygen therapy, wheelchairs, diabetic supplies, etc.
We oppose that cancellation. The government should use the ample authority that it already has to combat fraud more effectively. Criminals who have been allowed into Medicare have tainted the entire durable-medical-equipment sector, which provides cost-effective care for seniors and people with disabilities who require medical devices, services and therapies in their homes. Those facts should not be lost in the discussion about the future of Medicare.
Our industry has zero tolerance for fraud. Congress estimates that fraud and improper billing in Medicare cost us $70 billion a year. The share that durable medical equipment makes up is $700 million -- far too much, but about 1 percent of the total. South Florida obviously is a hotspot for equipment fraud and has received extra enforcement efforts and resources. The national figures beg the question: Why aren't the government and media focusing more on the other 99 percent of fraud, which represents $69 billion-plus in taxpayer theft or waste?
TYLER J. WILSON, president, American Association for Homecare, Arlington, Va.