Global Business Forum Panel Explores Health Care Fraud’s Ground Zero: South Florida
January 14, 2011
Pictured (l-r) Wifredo Ferrer, U.S. Attorney,
The discussion was particularly relevant to South Florida, which is an epicenter of Medicare fraud, with far more cases than other regions. The U.S. Attorney’s office started focusing on the cases in 2005 and established a strike force to target Medicare fraud in 2007, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer told the audience. In five years, 1,000 people responsible for a total of $3 billion in fraudulent billings have been prosecuted, he said.
“Our job in these cases is not to second-guess medical judgment,” he said. “This fraud is so blatant.”
He described fake medical clinics that are little more than a desk and a computer, durable medical equipment suppliers who disappear right before investigators arrive to raid their sham operations, Medicare beneficiaries who get kickbacks for allowing others to use their Medicare number to submit bills for 10 or even 20 clinics in a month and a variety of other scams that are common in South Florida.
Cecilia Franco, of CMS, drew gasps from the audience when she showed a map of Medicare beneficiary identification numbers that had been compromised. In South Florida, only the Everglades was visible – the rest of the map was covered with dots representing compromised ID numbers.
The panel drew a standing room only crowd.
Gillies spoke about another looming fraud threat posed by the electronic record-keeping that health care reform will require. Security for electronic medical records has not been fully fleshed out. “We expect with the rush to get these records up and the security following, we’re going to see fraud go up, and more identity fraud,” he warned.
Modern Healthcare magazine sponsored the panel.
The three-day Global Business Forum featured some of the world’s most prominent health care industry thought leaders. In addition to the keynote addresses, the Forum included more than 30 panel sessions organized in six tracks, including economics and health care, aging, innovation, wellness and prevention, global health issues and hospital design, technology and delivery systems of the future.
The Forum's key sponsors included BlueCross BlueShield of Florida and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. You can look back through the Forum conversation by searching hash tag #GBF2011 on Twitter. Additional updates are also be posted here on the School of Business website. You can also view photos of the Forum on Facebook.