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Senators Batter CMS Over Anti-Fraud Efforts

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 14, 2011

Carper and Sen. Tom Coburn, (R-OK), last month introduced a bill they call the FAST Act: Medicare and Medicaid Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayers Dollars. It would increase criminal penalties for fraud, encourage seniors to report fraud and abuse through the Senior Medicare Patrol, and would improve fraud coordination between state and federal governments as well as require deployment of data analysis technology.

In his opening remarks during the hearing, Carper lamented recent findings that half of Medicare spending for power wheelchairs went for claims that either weren't medically valid or weren't properly documented, "and we have dead doctors writing prescriptions for controlled substances...It's far too easy for bad people to get provider IDs."

He also said in a statement that Medicare's estimate of $47.5 billion that was paid out for improper claims in fiscal 2010 "does not even include an estimate for the Medicare prescription drug program, which I'm told could add more than $5 billion to that total. For Medicaid, the improper payments figure is $22.5 billion."

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