Klobuchar: Medicare fraud robs billions from taxpayersU.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is urging government officials to aggressively investigate and prosecute waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and improve its oversight of the Medicare prescription drug program.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is urging government officials to aggressively investigate and prosecute waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and improve its oversight of the Medicare prescription drug program.
At a recent hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security, Klobuchar decried the significant cost that fraud represents each year, and she called on the government to crack down on improper Medicare payments.
“It is unacceptable that as much as 20 percent of our total Medicare spending is lost to fraud each year,” Klobuchar said. “Fraud is a crime, and these perpetrators are criminals. This money should be going toward meeting the health care needs of the most vulnerable among us, like our senior citizens – not into the pockets of scammers robbing the American taxpayer clean.”
Klobuchar was invited by Subcommittee Chairman Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) to attend the hearing and question officials on preventing and recovering improper payments within Medicare. Witnesses discussed the merits of Medicare’s Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) pilot program and the requirements for prescriber identifiers as part of the Medicare prescription drug program, also known as Medicare Part D. RAC programs employ private companies to identify and recover overpayments.
Klobuchar supports provisions in the health care reform bill to combat fraud and her amendment to require direct deposits for all Medicare payments made to providers was included in the final health care reform bill. The amendment was based on a bill Klobuchar authored, the IMPROVE Act, and was endorsed by the AARP, the National Association of District Attorneys, the American Bankers Association, the Minnesota Bankers Association, the Credit Union National Association, and the Minnesota Credit Union Network.
Klobuchar is also a co-sponsor of the Health Care Fraud Enforcement Act of 2009. The legislation would strengthen the government’s capacity to investigate and prosecute waste, fraud, and abuse in both government and private health insurance.
The Medicare Part D program is in its fifth year of operation, providing about 90 percent of Medicare beneficiaries with some form of drug coverage. Medicare is on the Government Accountability Office list of government programs at “high risk” for waste, fraud, and abuse, and the U.S. Attorney General estimates that Medicare fraud costs taxpayers $60 billion dollars each year.