Medicare fraud — not just a financial crime, study finds

Patients are 13 to 23 percent more likely to die after being treated by a provider who is a perpetrator of Medicare fraud, according to new research published by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers looked at mortality and emergency hospitalization rates of more than 8,200 patients treated in 2013 by a provider that had defrauded Medicare and compared health outcomes to nearly 300,000 patients treated by providers who had not engaged in fraud. The researchers found three-year, risk-adjusted mortality was 3.3 to 4.6 percentage points (13 to 23 percent) higher among patients treated by perpetrators of fraud. Those patients also had an 11 to 30 percent higher rate of emergency hospitalization than patients treated by non-fraudulent providers.

Medicare fraud is viewed as a financial crime, but it comes with a human cost, lead author Lauren Nicholas, PhD, said on Twitter. "Patients treated by fraud and abuse perpetrators are disproportionately non-White, Medicaid dual-eligible, and under-65 Disabled, suggesting that fraud and abuse may contribute to health disparities," Dr. Nicholas tweeted. "[W]e estimate 6,700 premature deaths from exposure in 2013."

Read more here.


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