A review conducted by the Associated press found that regulators working to eliminate Medicare fraud (estimated at between $60-90 billion a year) often suspend Medicare provider licenses only to reinstate them in short order following appeals hearings.
The review also found government officials don't attend the hearings.
Federal prosecutors say the speedy reinstatements are a missed chance to stop taxpayer dollars from going to bogus companies that in many cases wind up under indictment. Prosecutors say some providers have collected tens of thousands of dollars even after conviction.
Officials revoked the licenses of 3,702 medical equipment companies in fraud hot spots in South Florida, Los Angeles, Baton Rouge, La., Houston, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Detroit between 2006 and 2009. About 37 percent were reinstated.