The October 6, 2008 USA Today article “Sleuths go door to door to sniff out Medicare fraud” is a good example of how we can go so very wrong with how we focus on reducing costs. I do not know what other people read but for me it was a waste of government dollars to send out the sleuths. What did they discover? That an 86 year old man was able to go on walks and therefore was not eligible to get the home health care costs of having a nurse go to the house to give him his injection. Sounds odd?
While we all celebrate that the man could take a walk; walking involves being able to move your feet while injecting yourself involves your hands. It seems that Medicare only pays for the nurse to go to the home if the person is homebound. The sleuth who discovered the man commented that the man’s nervousness about giving himself an injection was not sufficient reason to qualify him for the nurse visit. Is it reasonable to expect that every 86 year old person should be able to inject themselves? Did anyone take into account the savings that Medicare accrued since the man was able to live at home because he had this help? Moreover, the reporter confused the work of the nurse and that of the health aide.
While the sleuth may have been using the Medicare standard; it is obvious that the standard has to change. We need to have more sanity in how we care for each individual. Blanket rules such as this do more damage than good— rather than cover they suffocate.