Sen. Carper Highlights Report Detailing Nearly Half a Billion Dollars in Improper Medicare Payments Recovered by Enhanced Audit Program

Recovery Program Almost Doubles Rate of Recovery in Medicare Overpayments

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, highlighted a recent report showing that $499.8 million in Medicare Fee-for-Service overpayments were recouped by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). The recoveries took place during a nine month period from September 2010 through June 2011 through the use of the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) Program.

“Our efforts to curb the billions of dollars in fraudulent and improper Medicare payments are paying off, but there’s still more we can do,” said Sen. Carper. “This report shows that the amount the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recovered in this quarter alone comes close to the amount it recovered in the first two quarters combined. That’s remarkable progress in just a few months, but we can’t rest on our laurels when there’s clearly more work to be done. Recent estimates put the total number of Medicare fee-for-service improper payments at a staggering $34.3 billion annually. We have to get that number down, particularly as we grapple with record levels of federal debt and deficit. With one quarter left in the year, I encourage the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to continue its recovery of these scarce taxpayer dollars.

“As Congress and the Administration continue to work to find common ground on a deficit reduction plan, we must redouble our efforts to recover the low-hanging fruit that costs our nation billions every year,” continued Sen. Carper. “Medicare officials must quickly step up their efforts to identify payment errors and build upon these successes in recovering funds paid out improperly. Just as important, Medicare officials need to continue to work closely with auditors to spot patterns in erroneous payments so we can take steps to prevent these improper payments from happening in the first place.”

Medicare’s Recovery Audit Contracting employs private contractors to examine payments to hospitals, physicians and other health care providers in order to identify overpayments and other payment errors. Initially the Recovery Audit Contractor program focused on the Medicare fee-for-service programs (Part A and B), but Sen. Carper worked to include a provision in the Affordable Care Act to expand the program throughout Medicare and Medicaid. In 2010, the Recovery Audit Contracting program recovered $75 million. Last July, Sen. Carper’s bill, The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, was signed into law, requiring all federal agencies consider similar programs in order to recover the estimated $125 billion in all agency improper payments federal-wide.

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