Senators: Ramp Up Fraud PreventionMedicare, Medicaid Waste Cutting Targeted
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., on Jan. 9 sent a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, urging her to step up fraud prevention. President Obama recently nominated Tavenner to succeed Donald Berwick, M.D., who resigned as head of CMS under political pressure from Congress. Congress has yet to approve Tavenner's appointment.
In the letter, the two senators ask Tavenner to spell out what unimplemented anti-fraud recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General, as well as the Government Accountability Office, CMS plans to implement and when.
The senators also inquire about CMS' use of Google Earth as a fraud-fighting tool. They suggest, for example, that investigators use Google Earth to match Medicare and Medicaid billing numbers and addresses against actual physical locations before sending payments "to prevent fake shell companies from bilking the program."
In making the case for ramping up anti-fraud efforts, the senators note: "Because approximately one in three Americans receives health coverage through Medicare or Medicaid, and because these programs are notorious for being plagued with vulnerabilities, we believe taxpayers lose tens of billions of dollars each year in federal government health programs."