President Obama Will Try to Build Support for Health Care Reform through New Effort to Combat Medicare/Medicaid Fraud

By Jonathan Blakely

Mar 10, 2010 8:21am

In an effort to build support for Democratic health care reform legislation, President Obama will announce support later today for efforts to crack down on fraud in Medicare and Medicaid, among other government programs, one of the few areas of bipartisan consensus during last month’s health care reform summit.

Though the legislation has so far garnered next to no support from GOP lawmakers, the president is eager to depict the Democratic legislation as including the best ideas from both major parties. The bill includes Republican amendments and ideas, though not enough, Republicans say, to earn their support.

White House officials say in 2009 more than $54 billion in improper payments were made through Medicare and Medicaid.

In St. Charles, Missouri, later today, the president will announce that he has signed a presidential memorandum to direct federal agencies and departments to expand their use of “payment recapture audits,” which give private auditors financial incentives to find improper payments. Expanding the use of these audits, White House officials say, could restore $2 billion taxpayer dollars over the course of three years.

But right now the use of reclaimed funds for payment recapture audits is only possible for some government programs – through the Medicare Fee for Service program and for government contracts that enjoy more than $500 million in contracts. So the president will also announce support for legislation to expand the use of such audits. The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act was introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and has been cosponsored by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

-jpt

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