Q. How does the health care reform law stop criminals from stealing from Medicare and Medicaid?
A. The law arms the federal government with new tools to combat fraud and waste in Medicare, and in other government health programs like Medicaid. Medicare fraud alone costs taxpayers, by some estimates, $60 billion a year.
"Thanks to the new law, we will now have resources that will enable us to do more to prevent fraud and stop criminals from getting into the system in the first place," said Donald Berwick, M.D., chief of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The health care reform law provides $350 million to fight these scammers. And for every dollar invested to combat fraud, experts estimate Medicare saves $7 to $14. Any savings will be used to strengthen Medicare, helping it to pay for new benefits such as free preventive screenings.
Fraud and waste not only cost taxpayers billions of dollars but also jeopardize patient care, said Daniel Levinson, inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, who heads the agency's fraud investigation unit. Over the past fiscal year, the agency has recovered $3 billion from convicted scammers.