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Medicaid recipients targets of COVID scams

By TOM LATEK

Kentucky Today

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – The Attorney General’s office is warning of new coronavirus-related scams which are targeting Kentucky Medicaid beneficiaries.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers may target Medicaid beneficiaries in order to illegally bill the Medicaid program for unnecessary services and equipment related to coronavirus testing and treatment,” said Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

His office says marketing organizations, telemedicine companies, and labs may work together to solicit Medicaid beneficiaries for fraudulent COVID-19 testing.  The marketing organization may provide an illegal kickback to a telemedicine company to get a provider to sign off on administering both a COVID-19 test and a Respiratory Pathogen Panel Test, or RPP.

The RPP test is not required to test for COVID-19, but it allows the provider to bill the Medicaid program at a higher rate. Sites that administer testing using this illegal scheme often do not fully process the tests or provide beneficiaries with the results.

Scammers may also call or text Medicaid beneficiaries offering free COVID-19 testing and request the beneficiary’s personal identification information under the guise of account verification.  Scammers then use the stolen information to illegally bill Medicaid for medically unnecessary services or equipment, unbeknownst to the beneficiary.

 

The Attorney General’s office has tips to avoid fraudulent COVID-19 testing sites:

  • If you experience COVID-19 symptoms, work with a licensed healthcare provider to determine if testing is needed. The Commonwealth’s COVID-19 website provides information on when to seek care for COVID-19.
  • Only use testing sites approved to test for COVID-19. You can contact your local health department to confirm the legitimacy of a testing site.
  • If a testing site offers additional testing beyond a COVID-19 test, check with your licensed healthcare provider to see if the additional testing is needed.

To keep from becoming a victim of Medicaid fraud and identity theft, beneficiaries should:

  • Be suspicious of unexpected calls offering free COVID-19 testing.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited requests for your Medicaid number.
  • Never provide your social security number, Medicaid number, or credit card information to anyone other than a trusted source.

 

“Our Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse is committed to protecting the health and well-being of beneficiaries by stopping scammers who abuse the Medicaid program,” Cameron said.  “We encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim of Medicaid fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic to immediately contact our Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Hotline at 1-877-ABUSE TIP.”