• Action News Jax Investigates skyrocketing consumer complaints about durable medical equipment

    By: Paige Kelton , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Action News Jax Investigates a Florida company that sent thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment to a St. Johns County family and billed taxpayers for it. The only problem -- the family didn't order it and doesn't need it.

    It starts with a phone call, says Phillip, a St. Johns County man we agreed to not identify to protect his mother’s privacy.  


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    "He had a lot of my mom's info, Social Security, address, and she felt very uncomfortable and hung up," he said.

    Two weeks after the call, a box full of orthotic braces showed up at her door. Equipment her physician didn’t order, and she doesn’t need.

    "Medicare, taxpayers paid for all this equipment," said Philip. 

    The billing summary shows Layne Medical Supply billed Medicare more than $3,000.

    According to state records, Layne Medical Supply was created in January 2018. 

    When Action News Jax showed up at its Zephyrhills office, the door was locked, and no one answered the phone or our messages.

    The Medicare summary lists Jon K. Kaspari as having ordered the braces. We found active medical licenses for that name in four states -- North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Florida. When we called his last known business address, the receptionist said Dr. Kaspari hadn't worked there in years, but admitted they keep getting calls from people asking why he’d ordered medical supplies for them.

    We reached Kaspari on the phone at his Minnesota home. Action News Jax Reporter Paige Kelton told him, "I have a Medicare bill with your name on it as having ordered medical supplies for a woman in Jacksonville, Florida."  

    On the phone, Kaspari at first denied knowing anything about Layne Medical Supply, but then admitted he may have done something with them in the past.

    Kaspari told Action News Jax he often writes prescriptions for people over the phone but that he couldn't remember specific prescriptions, including the December order for orthotic braces for Phillip’s mother. When we again asked directly if he’d ordered the equipment, Kaspari admitted over the phone, “It’s possible.”  

    Neither Layne Medical supply nor Kaspari is accused of any wrongdoing. 

    But in Florida, durable medical equipment fraud, especially fraud involving orthotic braces, is skyrocketing.

    Ryan Lynch is assistant special agent in charge of the Office of Inspector General’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force in Tampa. 

    "It's the sheer volume of claims submitted every day that makes it tough to ID fraud immediately," Lynch said. “There’s a significant amount of health care fraud in Florida and we’re pooling our resources to address it.”

    Here's how the fraud works: Companies troll for your information, make cold calls, and then get a doctor you've never met to order medical supplies you don't need -- and Medicare gets the bill. 

    In April, a Florida man was among dozens indicted in a scheme the Justice Department said cost taxpayers $900 million.  

    According to OIG Special Agent Lynch, "There are vulnerabilities and those vulnerabilities exist because of the trust placed in doctors, suppliers, people in medical profession, to be honest."

    Phillip notified Medicare about his mother’s experience and asked it not to pay any claims filed by Layne Medical Supply. He said he has no idea where it got his mother’s information.

    “People have to be vigilant. They have to watch out for these things and report it, because we all pay for this," he said.  

    Click here to see how the company has responded to Better Business Bureau complaints. Lynch encourages anyone who has received one of these calls, or unsolicited orthotic braces in the mail, to contact the Office of Inspector Medicaid Fraud Strike Force. To file a report visit https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud/
     
    Recent DME fraud arrests
    https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/consumer-alerts/alerts/bracescam.asp
    https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/federal-indictments-and-law-enforcement-actions-one-largest-health-care-fraud-schemes
    https://oig.hhs.gov/newsroom/media-materials/2019/bracescam/

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