September 29, 2011
Contact: Carolyn Kemp
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
WASHINGTON, DC: 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.
For a full copy of the letter and list of supporting organizations click here.
About the National Minority Quality Forum
The National Minority Quality Forum is a Washington, DC–based not-for-profit, non-partisan, independent research and education organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care that is available for and provided to all populations. The Forum develops user-friendly, web-based disease atlases and indexes that provide a unique two-dimensional view of the prevalence and impact of diseases by zip code, including diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and HIV/AIDS. Visit our website at www.nmqf.org. Look for us on Facebook (National Minority Quality Forum), and follow us on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/NMQF).