In brief: Feds pull off giant fraud crackdown, MK gets active

Thursday, July 15, 2010

WASHINGTON - In the largest Medicare fraud crackdown ever, more than 90 people across five states were accused Friday of submitting fraudulent claims to the tune of $251 million dollars, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Many of the charges involved home health care companies that billed Medicare for equipment or treatment that many patients didn't need or never received, according to news reports. "It's disappointing to see it," said Michael Reinemer, AAHomecare's vice president of communications. "Everyone inside the Beltway knows we are against fraud. This may reflect cases that they have been working on for years. I don't think it's an accurate snapshot of DME fraud, which I think is way down. I don't think it accounts for changes like accreditation and surety bonds and all of the other crackdowns." In addition to homecare companies, the crackdown targeted a variety of healthcare providers. "I won't call that good news, but it is less singularly about us," Reinemer said.

MK Battery ramps up advocacy efforts

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- MK Battery has kicked off a new fund-raising campaign and hopes to generate "at least" $50,000 for industry advocacy efforts. With its Power for Funding program, which runs through Oct. 31, 2010, MK will donate $1 for every gel battery it sells to an HME provider in the United States. The company will split the money equally between AAHomecare, NCART and NRRTS. The campaign is "designed to provide a financial boost" beyond what MK already contributes industry associations, the company stated.

Get your CEU units

FRONT ROYAL, Va. - The 7th Annual Blue Ridge Symposium offers a full suite of educational courses and continuing education units for home respiratory professionals. The event runs Sept. 13-17 at the Holiday Inn at Blue Ridge Shadows, Front Royal, Va. Attendees can earn up at least six continuing education units each day. The event is sponsored by Valley Health Respiratory Services in partnership with Winchester Medical Center Foundation. For more information, go to

Power chair scam lands woman in jail

HOUSTON -- Sandra Thurman Patino, 46, the owner of two DME companies here, has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for her role in a $3.6 million power wheelchair scam, U.S. Attorney Jose Angel Moreno and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced last week. Authorities have recovered approximately $1.1 million from bank accounts related to the fraud, and seized and sold a Cadillac and a $400,000 home, both purchased with proceeds of the fraud. The recovered funds have been returned to Medicare. After credit for the seized amounts, the court has also ordered Patino to pay the remaining amount of approximately $1.46 million in restitution to Medicare.

Medtrade forms blue ribbon task force

ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- Medtrade and Medtrade Spring have created a blue ribbon task force to provide guidance and ideas that help improve the shows for exhibitors and attendees. Members of the task force are executives from organizations involved in the major aspects of the HME industry. "Medtrade and Medtrade Spring are truly the 'industry's shows' and for them to continue to meet the needs of attendees and exhibitors, ongoing feedback, creative suggestions and concrete advice on the current state of the industry are essential," says Kevin Gaffney, group show director.

VGM celebrates the ADA's 20th birthday

WATERLOO, Iowa - VGM Advocacy will participate in a celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act on July 24 at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. VGM is also working with the Waterloo Human Rights Commission for the local ADA celebration July 18. "VGM is proud to participate in these events marking the ADA anniversary, and hope people will join us in celebrating the abilities of so many of our citizens," said Kelly Turner, VGM Group director of advocacy.