Feds ban new home healthcare agencies in Miami to fight Medicare fraud

Feds ban new home healthcare agencies in Miami to fight Medicare fraud

Citing Miami’s ignominious status as a national Medicare fraud “hot spot,’’ federal health officials Friday said they will temporarily ban new home health agencies in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties from enrolling in Medicare and Medicaid, in an effort to stem scams and abuse.

The six-month moratorium, invoked under the Affordable Care Act for the first time, begins Tuesday. It will freeze new and pending applications for home health agencies in the two South Florida counties and Chicago, and for ambulance providers in Houston.

During the moratorium, officials with the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will continue to monitor home health billing from enrolled providers to root out fraud, according to the agency’s announcement.

“We are putting would-be fraudsters on notice that we will find and stop them before they can attempt to bill Medicare, Medicaid’’ and other programs, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement.

The unprecedented action was welcomed by elected officials and industry groups.