House bill targets fraud and abuse in Medicare

Friday - 11/11/2011, 2:47pm EST

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

Reps. John Carney (D-Del.) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) introduced a bill today that aims to fight waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid payments.

The bill — the Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayer Dollars Act or FAST Act — would expand data sharing between agencies, enact tougher penalties for fraud, and establish incentives for contractors to reduce their erroneous payments.

"This solution would put in place valuable preventative fraud-check measures to strengthen Medicare, saving taxpayers billions," Carney said in a statement. "Stopping Medicare fraud won't be the cure-all of our country's fiscal woes, but it is a commonsense bipartisan solution to save taxpayers billions and help strengthen Medicare."

The bill is a companion to legislation introduced in the Senate by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

According to Carney's release, Medicare fraud costs the government $50 billion annually or 10 percent of the total cost of Medicare.

The current Medicare enforcement method is a "pay and chase" model, wrote Roskam in an op-ed in the Miami Herald.

"Medicare does not effectively guard against fraud on the front end — cutting checks without thorough fraud-check measures — so law enforcement officials must pursue fraudulent claims after reimbursement. It is the equivalent of a retail store processing a customer's credit card approval long after the clothes have left the store. It's nonsensical," Roskam wrote.