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Online Chat: The Future of Medicare and Social Security

Missed the July 27 conversation? Read the transcript

Comment From Lynn: The news is saying that Medicare will be busted in just a few years. How are we going to stop that so we can continue to receive our Medicare disability each month? We live on that money each month no matter how much that is ... And just how many benefits will it hurt in the coming years?

David Certner, AARP:  Thanks, Lynn. Many people are concerned about the rising cost of health care, whether Medicare will be around for them and what can be done to strengthen the program. The first thing we need to realize is that the health care cost problem isn’t just for Medicare. We see it in the private sector as well for those who are still working.

There are steps we need to take to strengthen the program and hold down costs for health care in general. We can start by focusing on reducing wasteful or unnecessary spending. We need to improve how we manage care, how we share information among doctors and other providers, and what health care decisions we make. The new health law takes a number of steps to move us in that direction. We also need to attack fraud. Which leads to the next question …

Comment From Guest: What safeguards are in place to eliminate waste, fraud and graft in the Medicare system? What else needs to be done in this regard?

David Certner, AARP: The federal government is increasing its efforts to fight waste, fraud and abuse, which costs the Medicare program billions of dollars annually.

Medicare has teamed with the FBI and the Department of Justice to recover billions of dollars for Medicare by looking for suspicious billing patterns that lead to audits, investigations and prosecutions.

Fraud control efforts were enhanced by the new health care law, which added new data mining techniques to identify potential fraudulent activity together with greater authority to weed out and punish fraudulent providers from the Medicare program.

AARP also supports pending bipartisan legislation (Medicare and Medicaid Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayers' Dollars Act, and the Medicare and Medicaid FAST Act) that would increase penalties for people who illegally distribute Medicare cards, prohibit the display of Social Security account numbers on Medicare cards to reduce the risk of identity theft, and help beneficiaries to detect and report Medicare waste, fraud and abuse.

Comment From Judy Harding: Why is the government allowed to use funds from Social Security for other things? Shouldn't it be protected and used only for SS?

Next: Concern about the payroll tax cut being funded through a reduction in Social Security taxes. »

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