Earlier this week, ABC News focused on a Government Accountability Office report that detailed serious vulnerabilities in Medicare’s list of healthcare providers. The report found that 23,000 of the 980,000 providers in Medicare could be ineligible due to invalid addresses -- putting our Medicare program and taxpayer dollars at risk for waste and fraud. Some of the suspicious and invalid addresses included vacant lots, empty offices, mailbox rental stores – and even a fast food location. The report found as much as $1.3 billion could have been lost to invalid Medicare payments between 2005 and 2013. As I told ABC News, we can and should fix this problem:
The errors on the Medicare provider billing list are costly, wasteful, and simply unacceptable. But the good news is that there are some simple solutions and tools in place that Medicare officials can use to improve its provider list. Many of these solutions aren’t just low-hanging fruit; they are the fruit already on the ground.
During my time in Congress, I’ve kept my nose to the grindstone to ensure our federal agencies practice better stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and devote a stronger focus on curbing improper payments, like the kinds detailed in this report. That’s why this week, my colleagues on the Senate Special Committee on Aging invited me to a hearing to question officials about the report’s findings.
Fortunately, Medicare officials have said that they recognize the importance of this problem and will take steps to fix them. My colleagues and I will make sure that happens. Without a doubt, we must ensure that Medicare continues to provide critical care to our nation’s seniors and at the same time finds ways to contain the growth of health care costs. I believe we can do both. But it will need to be a team effort by Medicare officials and Congress – an effort that will require cooperation and smart oversight.