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U.S. bans new home health, ambulance providers in three regions

(Reuters) - The U.S. government on Friday said it would temporarily ban new home health providers and ambulance suppliers from enrolling in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program in three areas of the country, citing the risk of fraud.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said the bans will apply to home health agencies in the Miami, Florida and Chicago, Illinois metropolitan areas as well as ambulance suppliers in the Houston, Texas area.

"While maintaining patients' access to care, we are putting would-be fraudsters on notice that we will find and stop them before they can attempt to bill Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP," CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement.

The agency said its decision was triggered by a number of factors, including a disproportionate number of providers and suppliers relative to beneficiaries, a rapid increase in enrollment applications from providers and suppliers and extremely high utilization.

During the ban on new providers, CMS said it, along with the affected states, will continuously monitor access to care to ensure that beneficiaries are receiving the care they need.

The agency said that over the last four years the Obama Administration has recovered over $14.9 billion in healthcare fraud judgments, settlements, and administrative impositions.

(Reporting By Deena Beasley; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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