OIG to check for possible transportation fraud

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The government next year will investigate whether state Medicaid agencies have been making "erroneous payments" on transportation services for beneficiaries.

Medicaid transportation costs skyrocketed by 48%, to $1.5 billion, between 1999 and 2003, according a recently released 2007 work plan by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General. Medicaid pays for a variety of transportation, including non-emergency doctor visits from nursing homes in some states.

Medicaid programs can lose as much as 30% to 50% of non-emergency transportation spending to fraud and abuse, said healthcare consultant Robin Mathias. Transportation service fraud is common, she said, because transportation workers do not need professional certification.