Medical Supply Scam Comes with Long-Term Implications

( – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office has received reports that people are being offered medical braces they do not need and leaving Medicare to foot the bill. A woman said she had a phone call from a person pretending to be from her doctor’s office, but the attorney general traced this back to the Med Leaf Supply company, based in Florida and subject to several complaints that it shipped braces to patients that didn’t need them.

Nessel said she had reached an agreement with Med Leaf, and they assured her they would no longer operate in the Great Lakes State. The Attorney General said, “The scam of mailing or prescribing unneeded durable medical equipment costs Medicare tens of millions of dollars every year.” She furthermore warned that such scams may disqualify “patients for these devices when they really need them.”

Experts warn that anyone offered free medical supplies must inform their doctor because “when the time comes that you need such a device, Medicare may not pay,” believing they have already covered it.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General has offered advice on what to do if approached by anyone offering to send a medical brace, and the primary advice is to hang up the phone. It also states that people should only accept medical equipment from someone who delivers it to their door if this was prescribed by their doctor and agreed in advance. Patients should likewise never supply their Medicare number to anyone except their physician.

This is not the first such scam to be uncovered, and in 2020, the Better Business Bureau announced a similar fraudulent scheme and warned consumers that they could receive a phone call offering a “free” back or knee brace, which Medicare would pay for. Its warning noted that the Justice Department indicted 24 people nationwide for fraud that cost $1.2 billion the previous year.

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