New frontier in health fraud: Genetic tests of the elderly


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  loretta-mashkawidee-kemsley  •  4 years ago  •  1 comments

New frontier in health fraud: Genetic tests of the elderly
He called genetic testing of the elderly “the next big frontier in federal healthcare fraud enforcement.”

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The genetic-screening sales reps turn out at health fairs, houses of religion, parks and elder enclaves, offering seniors a chance to learn if they or their loved ones are at risk of developing cancer. All they need, the reps say, is a free cheek swab.

In truth, U.S. federal investigators say, some of the sales representatives are part of a burgeoning industry that threatens to become what multiple government investigators call the next big frontier in healthcare fraud: genetic testing, which is reaping millions of dollars from unnecessary tests that target senior citizens.

Shimon Richmond, assistant inspector general for investigations with the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, said his office has seen a steady stream of complaints into genetic testing. In 2018, the inspector general’s office received about one or two complaints per week. Now, he said, the fraud hotline burns with as many as 50 calls weekly.

“We have investigations going on in this space across the country. It is not limited to one geographic region,” Richmond said in an interview. “This is touching every corner.”


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From the article:

In all, more than 300 federal investigations, conducted by multiple law enforcement agencies, are examining genetic testing fraud schemes, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiries are not yet public. The investigative crush was sparked in part by unusual Medicare billing data patterns that started to emerge in 2015.

In the United States, genetic testing has skyrocketed. For Medicare, the public insurance program for elderly and disabled Americans, payouts for genetic tests jumped from $480 million in 2015 to $1.1 billion in 2018, a Reuters analysis found. Those figures do not include invoices for spending by state Medicaid programs, which serve the poor, or supplemental Medicare insurance programs offered by private insurers.

The investigations are examining billings submitted to federal health insurance programs. By law, all diagnostic lab tests must be ordered by a doctor treating a patient for a specific condition. 


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