While Chicagoans joke about the frequency of dead people voting, the fact that prison inmates are receiving Medicare checks from the federal government is an outrage. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that over three years, Medicare improperly paid $120 million in benefits to ineligible individuals.
In total, Medicare fraud costs America's elderly a staggering $60 billion each year, or 10 percent of the total cost of Medicare. And with Medicare facing bankruptcy within the next 10 to 12 years, acting to save as much as possible is essential for the future of the program. To put that 10 percent in perspective, the credit card industry processes roughly $13 trillion a year and has a .044 percent fraud rate.
Medicare's outdated operating system makes fraud and abuse too easy to commit. Unfortunately the problem will only get worse because the Affordable Care Act -- set to go into full effect in merely 10 months -- dramatically expands government spending in Medicare. The bigger the Medicare pot, the larger the target for criminals to commit more fraud.
While work is being done to weed out fraud and abuse, more needs to be done to protect against the new vulnerabilities.
To that end, I'm working with Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate to reintroduce the Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayer Dollars Act, our bill to strengthen Medicare by moving to a fraud prevention system modeled after credit card industry fraud-prevention tactics.
Medicare fraud is exploding the cost of a system that is already stretched too thin. When the money runs out, this vital safety net goes insolvent and seniors can no longer access the care they need. We cannot let seniors that need Medicare the most continue to lose out to criminals.
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam
6th Congressional District