Bill Calls for Medicare Smart Card Test

New ID Cards Seen as Way to Combat Fraud
Bill Calls for Medicare Smart Card Test
Bipartisan legislation introduced Sept. 14 calls for the testing, and potential national rollout, of smart cards for Medicare enrollees and providers as a way to help combat fraud.

The sponsors of The Medicare Common Access Card Act of 2011, S. 1551, note that about $48 billion in fraudulent Medicare claims occurred in 2010, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Sponsors include: Senators Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; and Representatives Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. and John Shimkus, R-Ill.

The smart card technology that would be used for identifying Medicare enrollees and providers is similar to that used for the 20 million Common Access Cards" issued by the Department of Defense, according to a press release from Sen. Wyden. The DoD Common Access Card includes an integrated circuit chip, a magnetic stripe, bar code and contactless capability.

"Building on the smart cards already issued to all Americans in uniform, we can offer seniors more protection for their identities while reducing fraud and waste in the strained Medicare system," Sen. Kirk said.

The new cards would remove the Social Security numbers now displayed on the front of Medicare enrollee's ID and include the added security features used on the cards of U.S. troops.

"If you looked at the card carried by every Medicare beneficiary in America you would find their name and their full Social Security number there for all to see," Sen. Wyden said. "In an age of identity theft, this is simply asking for trouble."

Providers would go through an enrollment process to verify their identity and eligibility to bill for services. "In the case of the providers, they will submit a biometric during enrollment that will be securely stored on the chip," the legislation states. "Providers will need to match their biometric to the card at the time they present their card to a reader to verify services were provided and subsequently bill them to Medicare."

Pilot Program

Under the bill, the Secretary of Health and Human Services initially would design and implement a smart card pilot program in regions considered high risk "in an effort to increase the quality of care, improve the accuracy in the Medicare billing system, reduce the potential for identity theft and prevent waste, fraud and abuse," Wyden's release states.

Following an HHS report to Congress on the results of the pilot, officials would consider nationwide implementation of the Medicare Common Access Card technology.

Funding for the project would come from the Medicare Improvement Fund.

About the Author

Jeffrey Roman

Jeffrey Roman

News Writer, ISMG

Roman is the former News Writer for Information Security Media Group. Having worked for multiple publications at The College of New Jersey, including the College's newspaper "The Signal" and alumni magazine, Roman has experience in journalism, copy editing and communications.

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