OIG touts $2.4 billion in healthcare savings

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

WASHINGTON - The OIG saved the Department of Health and Human Services nearly $2.4 billion in federal healthcare expenses during the second half of fiscal year 2006, the agency stated in a semi-annual report released to Congress last week.

The OIG recouped $1.6 billion from investigations and another $789 million from audits. As a result of its watchdog activities, the agency banned 3,425 people or companies from participating in HHS programs like Medicare due to fraud and abuse charges.

The OIG's report highlighted several cases involving DME companies:

* Lincare agreed to pay the government $10 million to settle charges that it allegedly paid illegal kickbacks to doctors for referring patients to its facilities.
* The owner of a DME company in Texas was sentenced to five years and three months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $500,000 for his role in a scheme that involved providing beneficiaries with power wheelchairs they didn't need.
* The company formerly known as Matria Healthcare and Diabetes Self Care agreed to pay $9 million to settle charges that they allegedly submitted claims for mail-order DME before they obtained valid physician orders.
* The owner of a DME company in Texas was sentenced to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay $669,000 for allegedly billing Medicare and Medicaid for more expensive equipment than he provided beneficiaries.
* The husband and wife owners of a DME company in Texas were sentenced to 33 and 20 months in prison, respectively, and ordered to pay $286,000 for providing beneficiaries with power wheelchairs they didn't need.

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