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WOOD-TV: Medicare waste spikes in Michigan

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Medicare waste spikes in Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan overpaid millions of dollars to health care providers who billed Medicare last year, a recent audit found — one of the highest figures in the country.

Medicare is reported to have the highest rate of financial waste of any government agency, with tens of billions of dollars lost in 2014 alone. A recent audit by the Council for Medicare Integrity, a nonprofit organization that monitors Medicare claims, shows doctors and other health care providers nationwide overbilled Medicare by $60 billion last year.

The Council for Medicare Integrity says Michigan’s Medicare waste last year was $108 million, the ninth-highest figure in the country.

>>Online: The complete top 10 list

The problem seems to have worsened rapidly. Michigan wasn’t on the list in 2012.

“You want to see Michigan doing well and saving taxpayers’ money and doing better,” U.S. Attorney Pat Miles said.

Miles says the audit’s findings were disappointing, but he also provided a word of caution about the validity of the numbers:

“I’m not sure how they’re quantifying that in this list or where they’re getting these numbers,” he said. “From a standpoint of monitoring expenses, law enforcement is absolutely vigilant.”

But overpayments can result from a variety of problems, including payment and billing errors, not just fraud.

“This affects everyone when we’re talking about Medicare expenses and taxpayer dollars and helping people, there’s no question there. But when there’s waste, fraud and abuse, it needs to be addressed,” he said.

Overpayments returned to the Medicare Trust Fund are coming in at the lowest level in five years.

Efforts to contact Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services late Thursday evening were not immediately returned.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ 2015 plan for improvements includes refining Medicare payment methods and improving program management.

>>PDF: The 2015 improvement plan

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