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Cracking Down on Medicare Fraud

The scams busted by the feds this summer in Miami, New York, Houston, Detroit and Baton Rouge, La.—totaling $251 million—were just the latest instance of Medicare fraud that annually fleeces taxpayers of $60 billion to $90 billion.

Law enforcement efforts and public service announcements have helped to combat fraud, and the health care laws passed this year provide new enforcement tools. But some members of Congress think law enforcement officers need even more help.

The Medicare Fraud Enforcement and Prevention Act, introduced by Florida Reps. Ron Klein, D, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R, along with a companion Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., would double criminal penalties for false claims and violations of anti-Medicare-kickback laws. The law also would create a new crime: illegally distributing a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary ID or usurping someone’s billing privileges. 

Another bill, H.R. 5546, sponsored by Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam, R, would create a more stringent Medicare claims review process.

AARP urges passage of all the bills. “Medicare fraud costs billions of dollars each year but can be prevented for a fraction of the cost,” says AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond.

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