A massive New York State audit claimed that health care providers recently billed publicly-funded health insurance program Medicaid for services provided to 287 dead patients, the New York Post reported Monday.
Sixty-six providers, including hospitals, pharmacists and doctors, admitted their patients were "deceased at the time of service" when confronted by state Medicaid Inspector General James Sheehan's office.
In one shocking case, the office discovered that New York's Bellevue Hospital accepted a cadaver for its organs — and then sent a bill to Medicaid for the "treatment."
Sheehan said Bellevue "received the body of a deceased Medicaid patient to harvest organs for transplant, but billed Medicaid as though they were treating the live patient."
The patient was transferred to Bellevue in a "clinically dead state" last April but was connected to life-supporting equipment "awaiting the removal of organs/tissue for donation," a Bellevue spokesman said.
"The Medicaid program was mistakenly billed for the admission. When this was discovered (by the audit), the reimbursement was voided and returned to Medicaid."
Following the investigation, Bellevue issued a new policy prohibiting staffers from billing Medicaid for harvesting organs from brain-dead patients.
Sheehan said his office's "deceased-patient project" found other examples of people making money off the dead using Medicaid, the $50 billion taxpayer-financed insurance program for the needy.
They included one dead patient's Medicaid card being used at three dentists in a week and a family who accepted delivery of a new bed paid by Medicaid after the patient died.
The recent cases cost Medicaid less that $1 million, but The Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) said every dollar counts in a tight state budget.
"We don't want providers billing for dead people," said OMIG spokeswoman Wanda Fischer.
Sixty-six providers, including Bellevue, told OMIG that they billed Medicaid for dead patients as a result of honest clerical errors.
About 200 other providers suspected of improper billing insisted they billed for services offered while their patients were alive.
SOURCE LINK: New York Post