New Charges of Medicare and Medicaid Fraud

Providers reportedly billing government for products they get for free

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(HealthDay) -- Free products from drug companies are the lynchpins in the latest Medicare/Medicaid boondoggle.

Allegations of fraud by health care providers and firms that care for the poor and elderly are being investigated by the federal government, says this wire service story carried by ABC News.

The wire service report, based on information gathered by the Chicago Tribune, says investigators are trying to figure out whether nursing homes and hospitals billed the agencies for products usually given to them for free or at a discount by Abbot Laboratories and others.

A spokeswoman for Abbot, which the story says has more than half the market for pumps and special foods to feed the seriously ill, says the whole industry -- manufacturers, distributors and providers -- is being probed.

The story also reports that two other firms -- Swiss drug giant Novartis and the Kendall unit of Bermuda-based Tyco International -- admitted they were among the 20 drug companies being investigated.

The Health Care Financing Administration has information on Medicare fraud. The BBC reported last year on a Medicare fraud case against the hospital chain HCA.

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