Comptroller: Feds Must Cut Improper Medicare, Medicaid Payments
On Thursday, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro at a Senate hearing recommended ways to reduce improper payments by Medicare and Medicaid, the Washington Times reports (Shastry, Washington Times, 10/1).
A Government Accountability Office report released in March showed that the federal government made $124.7 billion in improper payments in 2014. Medicare accounted for $60 billion in improper payments, while Medicaid made about $17.5 billion in improper payments. The two programs and the Earned Income Credit program represented about 76% of the improper payments (California Healthline, 3/6).
Details of Testimony
Dodaro during the hearing said human errors were largely responsible for the faulty payments, driven up by enrollment growth that has increased the programs' budgets and created more opportunity for payment errors.
Dodaro noted CMS in the past has received recommendations on how to address the issue, but said while the agency has "implemented some of the suggestions we had ... there are many they have not yet done."
Dodaro suggested that IRS be given power to compare its information with other federal data to identify spending problems and stop improper payments. Further, he noted that federal programs need better systems to:
- More adequately regulate tax preparers who file claims on behalf of others; and
- Ensure fraudulent parties are not making payment claims.
In addition, Dodaro said that to reduce fraud and identity theft, the federal government could remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards (Washington Times, 10/1).
At the same time, Dorado noted that not all improper payments are fraudulent. Improper payments also include those made for an incorrect amount, duplicate payments and payments to non-eligible providers and for non-eligible services. Further, some Democratic senators noted that equating fraud and other improper payment issues could be unproductive (Muchmore, Modern Healthcare, 10/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.