By Pete Kasperowicz
Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Thursday called on the leadership of the deficit reduction supercommittee to seek out waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid as they look for ways to reduce the deficit.
"According to estimates prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the two programs together made an estimated $70 billion dollars in improper payments in fiscal year 2010," they wrote. "Without a doubt, waste and fraud from Medicare and Medicaid are a major drain from the federal budget."
The two senators recommended several steps to the supercommittee that were included in their bill, the Medicare and Medicaid Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayer Dollars Act (FAST Act). These include tougher penalties for fraud against the two health programs, ensuring proper payments before they are made, and the use of the latest technology to identify and fight fraud.
They also said that because their bill does not make changes to coverage for Medicaid and Medicare users, it has won the support of a wide range of groups and is co-sponsored by 22 other senators.
The supercommittee is tasked with making recommendations on how to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years by late November.