Medicare has always been plagued by fraud that investigators have had to sort out. A new report suggests that hospices are now a large source of that suspected fraud.
A new study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services has revealed that overbilling by hospices is costing Medicare an estimated $260 million a year. The biggest source of the problem is that patients are being given costly inpatient care when it is not necessary instead of less expensive in-home care. Some hospices are also charging twice for prescription medications by charging Medicare and Medicare Part D. The Tampa Bay Times reported on this study in “Report: Medicare often overbilled by hospices and pays twice for some drugs.”
The results of this study are of natural concern for all taxpayers, but they are of particular concern for seniors for a couple of reasons. First, seniors who may need hospice care should receive the proper care. When in-home care is the appropriate treatment, then they should not be given inpatient care because that is better financially for the hospice. Secondly, many seniors have co-pays for Medicare Part D prescriptions. If the drugs are already being paid for by Medicare, seniors lose money when Medicare Part D is charged as well.
Another issue for seniors is that many politicians would like to save the government money by cutting Medicare benefits. Eliminating $260 million per year of unnecessary charges would make it much less likely that benefits would need to be reduced.
Reference: Tampa Bay Times (April 2, 2016) in “Report: Medicare often overbilled by hospices and pays twice for some drugs“