How it is in Houston

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

This letter is concerning your article “Scam targets Houston” (June 2003) as well as the response titled “Ethnic call-out?” (July 2003). I recently had to pick up a K0007 from a patient due to an M3 (same or similar) denial. The K0007, which our company dispensed, had a seat width of 24” and was rated up to 450 lbs. When we arrived at the patient’s house, the patient had a power wheelchair with a seat width of 18" and a weight capacity of 250 lbs. The patient weighs in excess of 300 lbs. The patient also presented his Medicare statement indicating that the supplier had attempted to bill Medicare on multiple occasions, but did not have the correct date of birth or Medicare number and stated that he never asked for a power chair. From these facts, one could deduce that the supplier never met with the patient prior to dispensing.

Suspecting that this was a clear case of Medicare fraud, I contacted my local FBI office. A pleasant agent took my information and said I would be contacted within 48 hours. That was 3 weeks ago. All of this leads me to believe that the government is not serious about cleaning up this industry.

With regards to the “Ethnic call-out” response to your statement “the dealers in question belong to a particular ethnic group,” it is unfortunate that a pattern has developed in the instances we have encountered (involving in excess of 10 patients per month). In each case, the suppliers were not native to this country.

-  Kevin Tunstall is the manager of Healthtec Medical in Houston