WASHINGTON – Today, President Obama signed into law key provisions that would crack down on waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare as part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. The measures come from two bills introduced by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures (PRIME) Act and the Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayer Dollars (FAST) Act.
“Medicare is one of our nation’s most critical safety-net programs that millions of Americans – the poor, the elderly, and the disabled – rely on every day for quality health care,” said Sen. Carper. “But every year, the program loses billions of dollars to waste and criminal activity. These common-sense measures will help fortify the integrity of this vital program, and will ultimately save taxpayers a lot of money. By cracking down on vulnerabilities that put tax dollars at risk to waste, fraud and abuse, we can ensure that Medicare remains sustainable for years to come and continue to provide quality health care and services to our nation’s most vulnerable populations. I’d especially like to thank Senator Enzi and Representatives Carney and Roskam for their leadership and help making this achievement possible.”
Among other steps, the provisions will ensure that Medicare prescriptions are issued from licensed physicians; strengthen the Senior Medicare Patrol and establish an improved Fraud Reporting Rewards program; curb the practice of “pay and chase” through improved payment accuracy by the contractors that pay claims in the fee-for-service parts of Medicare; and establish the initial steps toward improving Medicare beneficiary identification cards, including eventual removal of social security numbers from the cards in order to prevent identity theft.
The effort to pass these reforms into law has been bipartisan and bicameral. Sen. Carper and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) reintroduced the PRIME Act in March with more than 12 original cosponsors. Congressman John Carney (D-Del.) championed similar legislation in the House and helped lead the effort to have it included in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which was approved by the House last month by a vote of 392 to 37.