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September 30, 2011

By Gary A. Puckrein, PhD

For Immediate Release

September 29, 2011 | WASHINGTON D.C.

Groups Urge Select Committee to Fight Medicare Fraud First

Organizations Representing Millions of Seniors, Minorities, Patients and Veterans Urge Congress to Fight Medicare Fraud First Before Considering Harmful Proposals to Beneficiaries

The National Minority Quality Forum (the Forum) joined with twenty-three organizations representing seniors, minority Americans, persons with disabilities, military veterans, and the chronically ill to express the urgent need for Congress to focus their cost saving efforts on recouping the billions of taxpayers’ dollars being lost to improper payments and fraud within Medicare and Medicaid prior to targeting those Americans who depend on these vital programs with cuts.

In a joint letter to Congress sent yesterday, the organizations cite the fact that 10 percent of Medicare and Medicaid payments are lost to fraudulent or improper payments each year, amounting to tens of billions of dollars. Through improved program integrity and targeted efforts to eliminate fraud and abuse, significant savings can be achieved without harming the beneficiaries who depend on these services.

The groups make the point that while the government is making efforts to identify and eliminate fraudulent payments, much more can be done. They cite the recent announcement that federal officials charged 91 people spread across eight cities with filing a combined $295 million in fraudulent Medicare charges. The groups acknowledge in the letter this is an encouraging start, but “is unfortunately, only a drop in the bucket for potential savings.”

“We believe a top priority should be stopping the flow of dollars that now goes to criminals engaged in fraudulent and abusive practices—not increasing innocent beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs or cutting the funds that go to meeting Medicare and Medicaid patient needs,” the groups wrote.

The groups seek to work with Congress to “not miss this opportunity to achieve substantial savings, strengthen America’s Medicare and Medicaid programs, and ensure that the needs of America’s most vulnerable citizens are met.”

The Forum and a number of other like-minded organizations are in discussions to continue to work together in the weeks ahead on advancing the common sense approach to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse before considering proposals that would otherwise cause great harm and financial hardship for millions of beneficiaries. Millions of Medicare beneficiaries are closely following Congress and its activities with respect to cutting federal spending and are encouraging lawmakers to address reforms prior to imposing more expedient and disastrous across the board cuts.

Read Full Letter Here 


About The Forum

The National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, non-partisan, independent research and education organization. The vision of NMQF is a health services research, delivery and financing system that provides quality and effective health services to the biodiverse American general population of the 21st century. NMQF helps assure that national and local quality improvement initiatives are informed by scientific evidence, and place a priority on the quality of care and patient outcomes in all populations.

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