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AARP Endorses Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Medicare Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 27, 2010

Contact: Media Relations, 202-434-2560

AARP Endorses Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Medicare Fraud

“Older Americans deserve to know that their premiums and tax dollars are protected from fraud.”

WASHINGTON—AARP today announced its endorsement of three bills pending in Congress that would combat Medicare fraud.  These endorsements build on strong measures enacted under the health care law to prevent fraud in Medicare and throughout the health care system.

“Our members and all older Americans deserve to know that their premiums and tax dollars are protected from fraud,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond.  “Medicare fraud costs billions of dollars each year, but can be prevented for a fraction of the cost.”

The Medicare Fraud Enforcement and Prevention Act (H.R. 5044), sponsored by Reps. Ron Klein (D-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and companion Senate legislation (S. 3632), sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would strengthen the penalties for Medicare fraud and make it illegal to distribute Medicare identification numbers with the intent to defraud the program.  The bills would also give law enforcement officials quicker access to Medicare claims data, allowing them to act swiftly when suspicious activity is spotted.

“The best way to save seniors and taxpayers money while keeping Medicare strong is to get tough on criminals and stop crimes before they start—and that is why our bill does both,” Rep. Klein said.  “This innovative, bipartisan solution will help ensure that crooks can no longer open fake businesses or submit false paperwork to steal tens of billions of dollars a year from senior citizens and taxpayers.”

“Medicare fraud is a problem that hurts our most vulnerable citizens,” said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.  “An estimated $60 billion is stolen from Medicare annually and reform is sorely needed and must be achieved if we are going to restore the trust seniors have in our government services.  South Florida is known as the epicenter of Medicare fraud and this is why Ron Klein and I are working together for a solution to this intolerable problem.  Our ‘Medicare Fraud Enforcement and Prevention Act’ will provide badly needed reform to the Medicare system.”

“Now, more than ever, it is critical that we are protecting taxpayers, eliminating wasteful spending, and protecting Medicare and Medicaid services for seniors and hardworking citizens that need them,” said Sen. Gillibrand.  “By creating more transparency and more accountability in Medicare and Medicaid, we can save taxpayer money and protect services for seniors and people who need them.  Fraud and improper billing cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year.”

The Fighting Fraud with Innovative Technology Act (H.R. 5546), sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), would create a stronger process for Medicare to review claims before paying providers.  This review would screen out likely fraudulent claims to ensure payments are made to legitimate providers.

“By applying the same predictive modeling technology used by the credit card companies to keep fraudulent transactions to a minimum, this legislation has the potential to save taxpayers $100 billion in improper payments over the next decade,” said Rep. Roskam.  “This legislation enables Medicare to comprehensively verify that claims are not fraudulent before the claims are paid out with taxpayer dollars, protecting the integrity of the Medicare trust fund that many American seniors are counting on for their health services.”

AARP’s LeaMond added: “We applaud Sen. Gillibrand and Reps. Klein, Ros-Lehtinen and Roskam for coming forward with innovative ideas to stop fraud and punish those who commit it.  These are important components in a more holistic effort to not only fight the fraud that is occurring, but also ensure fraud is stopped before it happens through strong preventive measures.  AARP will pursue all necessary remedies to effectively fight fraud for which we all pay, and we urge Congress to make Medicare anti-fraud efforts a priority and pass these bills.”

AARP has called on Congress to make other needed changes to combat fraud, such as removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards, performing additional screening of providers and suppliers, and analyzing Medicare claims data to find suspicious billing.

In the coming months, AARP will be ramping up additional efforts to combat Medicare fraud, both through advocacy for national policy changes and by engaging its members at the local level.  AARP encourages anyone in Medicare to look carefully at their Medicare Summary Notice for any services or supplies they never received.  Those who find suspicious activity should ask their providers about the charges, and then contact Medicare through its fraud hotline, 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227), if they still have questions.

AARP has more information about stopping health care and Medicare fraud available at www.aarp.org.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole.  AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.  We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA su Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org.  AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors.  We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

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