White House Wants To Scale Up War On Medicare Fraud
The White House plans to ask Congress to increase funding for fighting Medicare fraud by 80 percent, in hopes of curbing billions of dollars in abuses, Dow Jones Newswires/NASDAQ reports. Already, "The administration has stepped up enforcement and prevention efforts targeting Medicare?claims. Rather than rely on tips, it has begun combining Medicare claims data into a single, searchable database, making it easier to pinpoint suspicious claims among the more than $1 billion spent on such claims each day" (Burns, 1/28).
However, USA Today reports those efforts have not made much of an impact. "Federal prosecutors charged 803 people with defrauding medical insurers in the fiscal year that ended in September, Justice Department records show. That's up about 2% since the government began deploying 'strike forces' to target fraud in 2007. Nearly all of the charges involved attempts to cheat Medicare" (Heath, 1/28).
Main Justice, a news Web site that covers the Justice Department, reports that Attorney General Eric Holder said at a federal summit on health-care fraud Thursday that "more than $60 billion in public and private health-care spending was lost to fraud each year." He said in a statement, "That is a staggering amount of money. It's more than the net worth of America's eight largest private foundations. And it's 33 times the amount of money that Avatar - now the highest-earning movie of all time - has made at the box office" (Palazzolo, 1/28).