Senate Amendment Would End Use of SSN on Medicare Cards
The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved an amendment to the fiscal year 2006 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR 3010) that would require CMS to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to reduce the risk for identity theft, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Under the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), CMS would have to develop a plan to replace the Social Security number on Medicare cards with a different identifier and submit to Congress by June both the plan and a cost estimate for the proposal.
Durbin said, "A Social Security number is a key for an identity theft," adding, "With it, he or she can open a new credit card or bank account as well as access existing accounts. You need a Medicare card if you go to a doctor or hospital, but carrying a card with your Social Security number on it leaves you vulnerable to ID theft."
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said that he plans to file a cloture motion to limit debate on the bill to relevant amendments, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said that the Senate will finish the legislation this week.
The House FY 2006 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill includes an amendment that would ban the use of funds provided under the legislation to issue Medicare cards with Social Security numbers.
According to Durbin, CMS officials told him and other lawmakers that they require time to develop a plan to replace the Social Security number on Medicare cards with a different identifier (CQ HealthBeat, 10/25).