In south Florida, where in-home health-care fraud runs rampant, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) hopes to stem future scams and save money using voice verification technology.

Starting July 1, the agency, which administers Florida's Medicaid program, will launch a pilot project in Miami-Dade County using the technology to make sure assigned nurses or home health aides actually deliver services to Medicaid recipients.

Sandata Technologies, a New York-based software company, will implement the pilot program. The company will keep the recorded voices of all nurses and home health aides in a database. When the registered health-care providers arrive at a patient's house, they will dial a number, enter a code and speak an assigned message. The software will verify whether the voices match.

Florida's Telephonic Home Health Service Delivery Monitoring and Verification pilot mirrors similar efforts across the country aimed at using biometrics to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in social services programs. In March, for instance, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration announced plans to test devices that would scan fingerprints and snap photographs of disabled and elderly residents who receive in-home care.

Florida's pilot program stems from SB 1986. Passed by the Florida Legislature last year, the bill gave the AHCA authority to raise standards for home health-care providers in the state, including penalties and sanctions to help prevent fraud and abuse.

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Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer