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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Oct. 7

3. Homecare Hokum

No, no, no Senators. It's not that the nation's biggest home care providers are ripping off Medicare by making more and more and more visits to patients. It's just that they really, really, really care.

Yeah right. And if you believe that, we have a bridge to sell you.

Shares of Amedisys (AMED - Get Report), LHC Group (LHCG - Get Report) and Gentiva (GTIV) got slammed early this week after a report released by the Senate Finance committee found the companies were increasing home care, even when patients may not have required extra attention. The incentive to bilk Medicare dollars was reportedly so strong that one company even went so far as to assemble a special crew to maximize the most profitable treatment regimens possible.

That's right. It may have looked like a never-ending stream of nurses looking after your loved ones, but it was really a SWAT team of swindlers ripping off you and me.

"Elderly patients in the Medicare system should not be used as pawns to increase a company's profits," said Senator Max Baucus in a statement. "Especially in these tough economic times, taxpayers simply cannot afford for their dollars to be wasted on unnecessary care."

Darn tooting Max! And you all better pay attention to the man because if there one group that knows how to spend money unnecessarily its Baucus and all his buddies in Congress.

LHC Group has already announced it's agreed to pay $65 million to settle a civil inquiry with the federal government over whether some government-reimbursed patient care was medically necessary. Under the agreement, LHC did not admit any wrongdoing and the company said it still disputes the claims. Same goes for Gentiva and Amedisys, which said it was "disappointed with the committee's conclusions" and that it stands by its "integrity, ethics and patient care practices."

If you ask us, all three companies should quit with the blah, blah, blah and clear their calendars for some very, very, very tough meetings. The Department of Justice is going to be visiting soon and they really, really, really don't want to hear excuses.

And that you can believe.

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AMED $28.03 -1.10%
BAC $16.40 2.50%
GTIV $19.19 -1.18%
LHCG $34.09 -0.64%
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