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WASHINGTON — A federal government watchdog is sounding the alarm that Americans’ growing enthusiasm for telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic has led to a worrying parallel: a “dramatic increase” in telehealth-related fraud.

The health department’s independent inspector general criticized policymakers for failing to put regulatory safeguards in place when they expanded access to telehealth in the Medicare program. Michael Cohen, the OIG’s director of operations, said the changes created an “open season” for vulnerabilities.

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