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GAO says fraud and abuse are 44% of Medicare in-home services billings

Staff Report • Mar 13, 2009 at 12:00 AM

According to a USA Today report, fraud and abuse helped boost Medicare spending on home health services 44% over five years as some providers exaggerated patients' medical conditions and others billed for unnecessary services or care they did not provide, a Government Accountability Office report out Friday says.The GAO reviewed home care payments from 2002 to 2006, when spending reached $13 billion. The number of Medicare enrollees using in-home services rose 17% during that period to 2.8 million.Medicare pays for visits by nurses, aides, physical therapists and other medical professionals for homebound enrollees. They check and clean surgical wounds, give medications, provide physical therapy and assist with other skilled care.Last year, Medicare spent about $16.5 billion on home care for the services reviewed by the GAO out of a total budget of $455 billion.

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