WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, at a U.S. Senate hearing in a struggle to crack down on schemes that defraud the government, a woman testified who said her Oakland County doctor charged her and Medicare thousands of dollars for treatments that were not necessary.
70-year-old Patricia Gresko was a patient of Dr. Farid Fata, who is an Oakland Township oncologist and now charged by federal prosecutors due to intentionally misdiagnosing patients and for unnecessary treatments. He has denied the charges. Gresko told the Senate Special Committee on Aging that Fata ordered monthly intravenous treatments for her to cope with an immune system deficiency he diagnosed. Other doctors later told her the treatments she was taking were unnecessary due to the reason that the antibody her system lacked cannot be replaced. She said, “This doctor was personable and dignified, and I trusted him. I thought, like all doctors, he would have my best interests at heart. Over the course of seven months, I had paid this doctor over $1,500 in co-pays. I later found out he had received over $14,000 (from Medicare) for giving me these treatments”.
The experience of Gresko was said “an outrage” by the committee’s chairman, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the committee’s top Republican, said that cases like Gresko’s suggest Medicare fraud is not always about doctors billing for services never provided. “I’m just horrified about what happened to you…. You were subjected to cruel and unnecessary infusions”.
The hearing of Wednesday was part of a congressional struggle to get information related to how well the changes to detect Medicare fraud are in progress.
According to Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, officials are making great strides having recovered $19 billion in potentially fraudulent payments in the last 5 years.
The alteration has been done in the program to place greater scrutiny on certain kinds of services that may be more apt to grab the attention of providers engaging in fraudulent behavior. The alteration also includes placing moratoriums on allowing new providers of certain services to enroll if federal officials believe there could be an issue. One such moratorium on home health services went into effect in metro Detroit earlier this year.
A regional coordinator with the Senior Alliance, Bettie Hughes, said that her group’s efforts and efforts of sister groups have assisted in saving more than $100 million nationwide. The group’s Senior Medicare Patrol assisted in educating Medicare beneficiaries on how to keep themselves safe against fraud. According to her, she has seen schemes to charge for unnecessary treatments, MRIs and CAT scans.”We need to find better ways of identifying who these fraudsters are and keeping them from marketing their schemes to some of our most vulnerable seniors”.
Fata committed fraud to enrich himself with the help of government health insurance programs, according to the prosecutors. Over 6 years, he submitted about $225 million in claims. His trial is expected this summer.
News Source: www.FreeP.com