Despite continued partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, GOP Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam told a group of suburban seniors Thursday that there is an "internal political will" on both sides of the aisle to protect Medicare, a program he described as "a promise from one generation to another."
Roskam announced Thursday morning the filing of Medicare fraud prevention legislation, the fifth piece of legislation he has filed in the 112th Congress. The announcement, made at ManorCare Health Services in Elk Grove Village, came shortly after the release of an AARP poll in Florida suggesting the current Washington debate over entitlement programs isn't winning Republicans any votes.
Throughout his talk, the Wheaton Republican never used the word "entitlement" to describe the federal health insurance system for people over 65 and those with disabilities, though it's been a buzz word at recent GOP presidential debates.
Roskam said he doesn't consider Republicans softening their language, but acknowledged a shifting approach.
"You know what I think is happening. I think that there's more openness all the way around to people understanding the nature of these challenges," he said.
Roskam's legislation, co-sponsored in the House by Delaware Democrat John Carney, would utilize predicative modeling technology to prevent fraudulent transactions from being paid, and would also work to help stop physician identity theft, enact tougher fraud penalties and expand inter-government fraud-data sharing. Senators Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, and Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, introduced this legislation earlier this year in the upper chamber.
Roskam pointed to figures showing Medicare fraud estimates at 10 percent, but credit card fraud at a fraction of a percent.
Credit card companies use predictive modeling -- understanding clients and their habits to know if a particular purchase is accurate.
By contrast, Medicare operates on a system where it pays money out and chases it down later to determine if it's fraudulent.
"Here's the point," Roskam said. "There's technology that's been available for years that stops fraudulent transactions like that."
Roskam said he hopes the legislation will "get a tremendous amount of momentum" as a money-saving measure thrown into the conversation by the bipartisan supercommittee tasked with paring down the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade.