Congressman Urges Feds to Investigate Medicare Fraud in Houston

The Houston Chronicle reported today that the chairman of a powerful congressional oversight committee has called for investigations by three federal agencies into ongoing Medicare fraud in the Houston region in which home health care agencies have cheated taxpayers out of tens of millions of dollars.

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., said repeated testimony before a House Ways and Means subcommittee in early 2011 documented concerns about Medicare billing and yet, “Nearly a year later, recent reports out of Texas suggest … providers continue to operate with impunity.”

“The cases detailed in the Houston Chronicle are troubling if not surprising,” Boustany wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Marilyn B. Tavenner, the acting director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Boustany is chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight.

According to reports, home health care agencies have reaped the spoils, making $1.25 billion in the Houston area over a four-year period.

Boustany has asked Holder and Sebelius to investigate the specific Houston allegations. He’s also requested a detailed account by March 21 of the number of Medicare fraud cases they have opened and – more specifically – the number of successful criminal convictions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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