|SITREP - May 5th, 2012|
It’s been a great week back in Florida, as usual, but instead of giving you another rundown of all of the various meetings and events, I wanted to draw your attention to an important development outside of the District.
On Wednesday of this week, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services put out a joint press release announcing a nationwide sweep of individuals they suspected of Medicare fraud.
Of the one hundred and seven individuals arrested, a significant number were licensed medical professionals – doctors, nurses, and the like. This shows, in many ways, how deep this problem really is. In many cases, health professionals and other thieves submit invoices for reimbursement to Medicare for services that were never provided, products that were never delivered, and care that was often in the name of deceased patients.
Nobody really knows for sure how much Medicare fraud costs the taxpayers, but the best estimates put the cost in the billions. For a program that so very many Americans support and rely on, and one that is on extremely shaky financial footing, this is something that cannot be allowed to continue.
Administering a program as large as Medicare is inherently challenging and there are always going to be holes in the system that criminals will try to exploit. The question is how you adapt to that. One important first step is making sure the criminals know that this sort of crime will be investigated and it will be prosecuted.
It is similar in many ways to what is going on with tax fraud. For years now, people have been filing fraudulent returns and most of them have been getting away with it. When criminals start to think that law enforcement isn’t going to go after the crooks, the crime spreads and it does so quickly.
If you read this newsletter regularly you know that I don’t spare criticism for the Obama administration. When I don’t think they are doing something right, I speak up about it. That’s a big part of my job as a member of Congress. But in this case, however, I think DOJ and HHS deserve some credit. Let me be the first to say that. Half a billion in Medicare fraud is a major bust, and while it is certainly only scratching the surface, it does send a message to the rest of the criminals out there. That matters a lot.
In any case, if you see any other stories or issues you think I should be aware of, please don’t hesitate to send them along. Thanks again.