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AARP Ramps Up Fight Against Medicare Fraud

Proposals would protect identities and save billions

Thieves are always looking for ways to steal your identity and scam Medicare. Each year Medicare fraud costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars and drives up health care costs for everyone. AARP is calling on Congress to pass two Medicare-related bills that will keep your personal information safer and help the government spot phony claims before paying them.

See also: AARP Government Watch 

All Medicare patients must carry a benefits card that displays their Social Security number. Such easy access to sensitive information makes the cards a hot target for identity thieves who want to file false claims.

The Medicare Common Access Card Act (S. 1551/H.R. 2925) would establish a pilot program to develop a Medicare "smart card" that would identify Medicare patients without revealing their Social Security number. The bill is sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; and Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa.; Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; and John Shimkus, R-Ill. Read AARP's letter endorsing this legislation.

Another measure would aim to use technology to flag false claims before they are paid. That would not only save Medicare money, but also reduce the time law enforcement officials and courts spend tracking scammers and prosecuting them.

"The Medicare and Medicaid Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayer Dollars Act – or the 'FAST' bill – will improve data sharing across federal agencies and programs to ensure that information is shared in more real time to discourage fraudulent claims," AARP wrote in letters to the bill's sponsors in Congress. "[The] legislation also includes additional penalties for those who illegally distribute Medicare, Medicaid or CHP beneficiary identification information."

The bill has the same six sponsors as the Medicare Common Access Card Act. Read AARP's endorsement letter to Sens. Kirk and Wyden along with a letter to the House sponsors.

AARP is committed to continuing the fight against Medicare fraud and will work with both parties to crack down on scam artists and stop fraud from driving up health care costs for Medicare and Medicaid patients and all taxpayers.