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Telehealth fraud may have cost Medicare more than $125 million in first year of pandemic

Posted at 2:16 PM, Sep 12, 2022

Telehealth was vital during the early days of the pandemic as doctors and hospital staff prioritized COVID-19 patients.

However, it appears some providers attempted to take advantage of the expanded access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries.

According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, more than 1,700 providers were identified as posing a "high risk to Medicare" in the first year of the pandemic.

"These providers billed for telehealth services for about half a million beneficiaries," the report states. "They received a total of $127.7 million in Medicare fee-for-service payments."

Officials said the providers could have been billing telehealth services for services that were not medically necessary or were never provided.

The report states that more oversight is needed to prevent fraud and wasteful spending.

"Although these high-risk providers represent a small proportion of all providers who billed for a telehealth service, these findings demonstrate the importance of strong, targeted oversight of telehealth services," the report says.

The Office of Inspector General the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has agreed to follow up with the providers identified in the report.