The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking steps to curb Medicare fraud by requiring a $50,000 surety bond from certain durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers. DME suppliers must meet this requirement by October 2, 2009, if they are an existing supplier, or by May 4, 2009, if they are newly enrolled. Those suppliers who do not deliver the bond will not be able to continue participating in the Medicare program.

A $50,000 surety bond has been required to prevent fraud as a part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. However, a surety bond requirement has never been implemented until now. Those suppliers with a history of certain adverse legal actions imposed against them may be required to post a higher bond amount.

Additionally, CMS revoked the billing privileges of 1,139 DMEPOS suppliers to prevent fraud, as a part of the DMEPOS High-Risk Suppliers Demonstration, which began in October 2007 and focuses on suppliers in South Florida and the Los Angeles metropolitan areas. Billing privileges were revoked for not reenrolling in the Medicare program and not meeting Medicare supplier standards.

“We know the majority of medical equipment suppliers and health care providers want to improve the health of Medicare beneficiaries, but we also know there are those who look for any opportunity to take advantage of beneficiaries and Medicare,” says CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems. “The steps we are taking today provide us with additional oversight of the suppliers who furnish medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries and those who provide home health services in South Florida.”