Here is an altogether rare occurrence—a bipartisan bill: S. 1251 co-sponsored by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). It is already being discussed in a Senate committee where a majority of bills never make it out alive. There is rumor of a similar bill being introduced in the House of Representatives.
Sen. Coburn, who holds a medical degree, estimates that as much as $100 billion may be lost annually to Medicare and Medicaid waste, fraud and abuse. That’s $100,000,000,000. Wouldn’t law and order resources be better spent chasing down these criminals rather than on pursuing nonviolent personal drug users? (Actually, police departments might be offered bounties by the feds to do the former. See Decriminalize Personal Drug Use.)
The Medicare and Medicaid Fast Act includes:
• Preventing prescription drug waste
• Reducing fraud and abuse through a National Provider Identifier Registry for pharmacy claims and interfacing with DEA databases
• Curbing improper payments with help from loss specialists
• Offering fraud reporting rewards
• Protecting Social Security numbers and conducting prepayment reviews of high-frequency fraud items
• Improving data sharing across federal and state agencies and programs
• Forensic fraud detection programs
• Improving CMS contractor performance
• Strengthening penalties for illegal identity and billing fraud
In 2008, in Florida, over $400,000,000 in fraudulent Medicare billing was discovered in just two counties. We’re now in late 2011. What’s taking so long?
If police officers on the beat in their neighborhoods were to run cursory checks on all new Medicaid and Medicare providers, including talking with the neighbors, it would go a long way in discouraging brazen fraud. Modeling would suggest the kind of foot traffic to expect based on the billing. A disconnect would trigger a full local investigation. If local law enforcement officials were offered federal bounties, the number of fraud cases would drop like a kidney stone—and be about as painful for those stealing our hard-earned tax dollars.
When you run a business, you need to put your resources where they will generate the greatest return. What if we were to move the easiest parts of this along as quickly as possible?
Senator Coburn, who holds a medical degree, quotes a Newt Gingrich op-ed when he claims that there may be up to $100 billion dollars of fraud and waste. And since we're quoting Newt Gingrich, let's all remind ourselves of the time he claimed he wasn't trying to destroy Medicare all at once because that's not "politically smart," but instead wanted to make it "wither on the vine."
Wouldn't it be interesting to know the number of Americans 65 years and over, who still work full time, whose employers provide health care benefits on a cost-sharing basis? Yet, at 65, Americans who fit this description are forced to sign up for Medicare; we have no choice. If I, as a full time employee, prefer to continue payroll deductions towards my employer's group health plan, why should I not have that option and right? How much would taxpayers/government save in Medicare costs, by not forcing anyone reaching an arbitrary age to "join" Medicare? Possibly billions of dollars yearly?
Wouldn't it be interesting to also know how much is spent yearly by health care insurance companies -- e.g. United HealthCare, the Blues, Aetna, etc -- in lobbying Congress not to change that system?
Just who are our elected officials working for?
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