Commentary: Medicare scams must be stopped

Some lucky "patients" get flat-screen televisions as gifts from home care providers. It's the cost of doing business in South Florida — Medicare fraud that's robbing taxpayers hundreds of millions, even billions, of dollars.

This particular scheme involves home visits to inject insulin for elderly patients with diabetes — a rare service in most of the nation.

But not in Miami-Dade, where such services are out of control.

Many of these patients don't have diabetes — they're not even sick. They were created by crooked providers who bribe doctors for referrals and then pay Medicare patients a kickback — anything from cash, groceries or fancy TVs — to use their Medicare ID.

Now, finally, Medicare plans to step up its enforcement — not after millions of dollars have been stolen in false claims, but at the front end of the billing process. The government wants to cap Medicare payments to 10 percent of the bill for agencies treating homebound diabetics starting in January.

That approach requires careful vetting. It's a way to control fraud, but it's not fair to the real diabetics, relatively few in number, who simply cannot treat themselves. They should not pay the price for the greed of others.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.