News10NBC Investigates: They’re back! Boxes of leg and back braces arrive at the front door
CHILI, N.Y. (WHEC) — They’re back! Three years after an Emmy Award-winning investigation by News10NBC into leg and back braces arriving at people’s homes, the packages have returned.
Our work before the pandemic exposed what the federal department of Health and Human Services called one of the largest Medicare frauds ever.
At that time, boxes of braces got shipped to people’s homes even though they didn’t need them and never asked for them and then Medicare got billed.
One viewer remembered our work and called when boxes of braces showed up at her front door.
Judy Earley said she’s had seven boxes mailed to her home in two months. She returned four to UPS. She refused one at her door. But she kept two boxes so we could open them when I got to her home in Chili.
"We don’t order any kind of medical equipment," Earley said when I arrived.
We opened the last two boxes together on Monday. The first box was from a company called Heal Root Digital Incorporated. The address on the UPS shipping sticker belongs to the third-party shipper’s Florida address.
Heal Root Digital is based in Nevada.
"Looks like the things guys use for hockey," Earley said pulling out pieces of the hard plastic braces. The box was full of ankle and wrist braces.
The second box was from a company called Centrex Medical, based in Omaha, Nebraska.
"What in the world?" Earley asked as she pulled out a four-pound back brace.
Tuesday I called every number listed for both companies. Both have National Provider Identifier numbers issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.
I did reach the manager for Centrex Medical which got its NPI number on Dec. 27, 2021.
Jacob Corley Hinton told me they don’t contact customers at random, customers have to opt-in to get a brace and they record every conversation with a customer, like Judy Earley.
Hinton said privacy laws don’t let him share those recordings when I asked for a copy of the recording with the Earleys.
Hinton said they sent "what was requested and prescribed by their provider."
He said the company is "above board and performing everything legally."
Brean: "Have you ever been prescribed medical equipment by your doctor?"
Three years ago, when I showed you the people who had similar braces mailed to their homes, they all said they got phone calls from people asking if they were in pain.
Brean: "Do you recall getting a phone call asking if you were in pain?"
Earley: "I had one that said ‘do you have arthritis?’ I said no. Well ‘do you have any kind of pain? We’re going to send you this stuff and we’re interested.’ I said I don’t give my medical information out over the phone, I’m sorry. And I hung up."
The manager of Centrex Medical told me they bill the customer’s insurance provider if the brace isn’t returned.
"I would like them to stop coming to my house so I don’t have to go all the way out to Henrietta again and bring them back to UPS," Earley said.
I shared our information with the inspector general’s office of Medicare. I’ve already heard about one other couple who got boxes like this. I’m trying to reach out to them. If they came to your home, let me know about it.
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