Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let’s Hire a Bunch of Auditors

Along with millions of Americans I watched the Congress pass President Obama’s health care reform bill the other night. Obviously my first question is what does it mean for me? The next thing that came to mind is why are we expanding Medicare and Medicaid, two of the most fraudulent government programs ever created? Part of the bill included an increase in Medicare taxes of nine tents of a percent on income over $200,000 for single tax payers and over $250,000 for joint filers to help fund the cost of the program. I think I may have a better suggestion on how to help fund the program. Let’s hire a bunch of auditors!

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla) says that “Medicare has at least $80 billion or more in fraud annually.” The U.S. Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations in 2008 reported that “Medicare paid dead physicians 478,500 claims totaling up to $92 million from 2000 to 2007.” How long would it take to compare these claims against the Social Security death index to see if the recipient is still living? There are numerous stories of Medicare paying for walkers for paraplegic patients and patients with sinus problems. Doesn’t anyone look at these claims for reasonableness; apparently not. In fact claims are paid by computer without any human intervention. There are very few controls and almost no checks and balances. One writer suggested that if you want to steal from Medicare learn how to bill for your lies correctly then your claims will be paid in full and on time.

Here is what I think should be done. Hire a consulting firm, preferably an accounting firm, to redesign the Medicare payments system with actual controls. Next, hire a few hundred auditors to audit Medicare reimbursement requests for reasonableness. This should substantially reduce fraudulent Medicare claims and decrease expenditures. In fact the government has said that for every dollar they invest to fight fraud they get $1.55 in return. I think a 55% return on your investment is pretty good. What do you think?

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