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Federal government on the lookout for $8B Medicare fraud


A joint investigation by ABC and Nine has uncovered an $8 billion annual leakage in the Medicare system, prompting the federal government to look into the fraud activity. 

According to ABC News, the flaws within Medicare’s systems have made it easy for doctors to abuse it by putting patients at risk, billing dead people and falsifying patient records to boost profits

The flaws are also said to make it almost impossible for authorities to detect fraud, incorrect payments and errors. 

The federal government, which labelled the investigation as “troubling,” has ordered a report from the Department of Health and Aged Care on the issue.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler also asked for an analysis of Medicare expert Dr Margaret Faux’s findings. He also requested a report on the department’s existing healthcare compliance and audit programs.   

“Australians know that the overwhelming bulk of Australia’s doctors and health professionals are honest, hardworking and comply with Medicare rules,” Minister Butler said.  

“But they also understand that, after nine years of cuts and neglect, every dollar in Medicare is precious and must be spent directly on patient care.” 

Treasurer Jim Chalmers described the revelations of the investigation as concerning, stating that the federal government will get to the bottom of the fraud issue. 

“We don’t want to see a single dollar rorted or thieved from the system when it could go to helping people who are vulnerable,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called the investigation an “unjustified slur” on the medical profession, stating that the reported figures reported were grossly inflated. 

“Doctors will be sickened by today’s reporting which is an undeserved attack on the whole profession based very much on anecdotes and individual cases,” AMA President Steve Robson said. 

“Australia’s doctors have worked incredibly hard through COVID – treating Australians during the lockdown, rolling out the nation’s vaccine efforts, putting themselves at risk every day to treat COVID patients on the front line – so today’s coverage is as appalling as it is inaccurate.” 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also said that the majority of doctors were using the system appropriately. 

“The idea that we denigrate those people or tar them with this brush is in my view entirely inappropriate because overwhelmingly, GPs are out there providing fantastic service,” he said. 

Concerns have long been raised in regard to the flaws in Medicare’s systems, with GP and Professional Services Review Head Tony Webber stating that the system’s Benefits Scheme was “riddled” with incentives for practitioners back in 2012. 

Note: This article was first published on Public Spectrum.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.


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