A Hummel Report Investigation
Does one person’s voice make a difference? A Rhode Island woman has been fighting for nearly a year to find out why taxpayer-funded supplies for her disabled daughter have repeatedly arrived damaged and unusable. And who’s paying for the replacement costs? We went to Senator Jack Reed’s office, which is trying to get answers as well. And now, Jim Hummel finds, the case has caught the attention of a Medicare fraud and abuse unit.
This week: a Rhode Island woman’s trying to find answers. Why are supplies for her disabled daughter - paid for by Medicare - arriving repeatedly damaged? And are taxpayers eating the replacement costs? We’re on it, Senator Reed’s office is on it and now so is a Medicare fraud unit.
Becky Kelsey is in a great mood this Monday afternoon,laughing and smiling for her mother Jodi. It is a lighter moment in what can often be challenging days.
Becky - who is 33 and lives at home - has a severe form of cerebral palsy. She can’t speak or walk, has pulmonary issues and a seizure disorder. And for the past 20 years, she has been on a feeding tube.
Kelsey: ``The particular formula she’s on is called Promote. It has a certain amount of vitamins, nutrients, all of the good stuff she needs for age, her size.’’
Jodi Kelsey says that until last summer Absolute Respiratory out of Johnston had the contract for the Becky’s formula and other supplies - all paid for by taxpayer-funded Medicare - and delivered directly to their door. That all changed last summer.
Kelsey: ``I’m thinking that Medicare is trying to save money so they put out a bidding system and the company we were using did not win the Medicare bid, so we were given a list of different places.’’
Jodi chose Lincare, a large national company with a local office here in East Providence.
Kelsey: ``They own a company called Enteral Central, which is where their enteral care comes out of, which I believe is in Arkansas. When we started a year ago they really didn’t know much about enteral care - I actually had to bring a Mickey Button in, which is the button that goes into to my daughter in order for her to be fed.’’
Hummel: ``They didn’t even know about that?’’
Kelsey: ``They didn’t even know what it looked like. I had to speak with somebody in Florida, then they switched me over to somebody in Alabama, and then the food comes out of Arkansas.’’
Hummel: ``So the East Providence company is not so local.’’
Kelsey: ``Not at all.’’