Government Health IT, September 27, 2011

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation that would equip the nation's 48-million-and-counting Medicare enrollees with smartcards, thus improving access to healthcare and saving an estimated $30 billion a year in fraud and waste. The proposed legislation comes as three other lawmakers are petitioning the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Medicare eligibility system, saying it sometimes takes far too long to determine beneficiary eligibility. The Medicare Common Access Card Act of 2011, sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the Senate and Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and John Shimkus (R-IL) in the House, would create a two-stage process for the smartcard program. The first stage would consists of a number of pilot programs to embed microchips in Medicare identification cards, while the second would expand those programs nationwide.

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