Florida Clinics Under Investigation for Using HIV-Positive Homeless People To Allegedly Defraud Medicare
The FBI, the Florida Department of Health and local police are investigating some storefront clinics in Broward County, Fla., that allegedly are paying HIV-positive homeless people $100 to $300 to undergo expensive and unnecessary treatment so that the clinics can bill Medicare, the Miami Herald reports. According to AIDS advocates in the county, clinic recruiters travel to homeless shelters and drug treatment programs in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., looking for HIV-positive people, many of whom are disabled and therefore eligible for Medicare. The recruiters offer the people cash to go to clinics for injections that reportedly cost as much as $6,000 each. Medicare then reimburses the clinics for the procedures. Medicare became aware of the situation in 2003 and has blocked $214.5 million in claims and suspended more than 24 providers, the Herald reports. Three people have been arrested as a result of the investigation. CMS spokesperson Peter Ashkenaz said the agency has equipped its computers with mechanisms that block certain providers and patients connected with the scandal. However, advocates are worried that many of the clinics suspected in the scandal are still operating (Dorschner, Miami Herald, 6/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.