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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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By Mr. COBURN (for himself, Mr. LeMieux, Mr. INHOFE, and Mr. DeMint):

S. 3900. A bill to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse under the Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP programs, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, today, I, along with Senators LeMieux, DeMint, and Inhofe, am introducing the FAST Act. At the same time, this same bill is being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative PETER ROSKAM. Both of us were present at the White House summit with the President.

What the FAST Act does is attack the $100 billion worth of waste and fraud in Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP.

In the President's February 22, 2010 proposal for health reform, President Obama endorsed several Republican proposals designed to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid. While some anti-fraud provisions were included in the health care overhaul that passed Congress, these Republican proposals were not fully included.

Today, along with Senators LeMieux, DeMint, and Inhofe, I am introducing the ``Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayers' Dollars'' or ``FAST'' Act. An identical bill is also being introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Peter Roskam, who also attended the White House health summit. The FAST Act notionally represents the Republican solutions the President endorsed to combat waste in Medicare and Medicaid as, as well as a bipartisan provision to reduce from by removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

The status quo in Medicaid and Medicare is unsustainable and unacceptable. American taxpayers lose $60 to $100 billion in waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid each year. Congress and the administration must do a better job of working to staunch this flow of taxpayer dollars that goes to crooks instead of providing care.

The current system was designed to be defrauded. And under the status quo today, organized crime affiliates and criminal gangs are bilking billions of taxpayer dollars from Medicare each year because it is so easy to defraud the system. HHS' Inspector General told Congress recently that a street gang in California has defrauded Medicare to the tune of $11 million by establishing a fake company and billing Medicare for expensive items like wheel chairs and oxygen supplies. The American people ought to be outraged and should not stand for this.

Imagine how we could improve Medicare's solvency if we could recoup two-thirds of the known fraud and abuse in the program each year. We could save $400 billion over a decade, just by preventing fraud.

But the loss of taxpayer dollars due to waste and fraud under Medicare and Medicaid not only threatens the financial viability of programs, they erode the public trust. American taxpayers should not be expected to tolerate rampant waste, fraud, and abuse in publicly-funded health care programs.

The new Federal health overhaul that Congress passed earlier this year dramatically expands Medicaid, significantly changes Medicare, creates new regulations, and will send hundreds of billions of dollars to insurance companies. Without improvements to current anti-fraud efforts, taxpayers could be at risk to even more money.

Congress and the Administration must do a more effective job in combating waste, fraud, and abuse in public health care programs and protecting the American taxpayer dollars. This bill is not a magic bullet, but I believe it offers a common-sense step forward to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse in our Nation's largest two health care programs. This bill gives increases data sharing, stiffens penalties, and pilots new ways of combating egregious fraud.

I sincerely hope politicians and bureaucrats can put the public interest ahead of their own. Congress and the administration cannot afford to continue to tolerate such fraud in Medicare and Medicaid. I look forward to working with any member of Congress who is serious about reducing waste, fraud, and abuse in public health care programs.

Just think for a minute what would happen to Medicare solvency if, in fact, we could recoup two-thirds of the fraud and inappropriate payments that are ongoing. It is straightforward. Many of the ideas in this were embraced by the President at our meeting.

It is my hope that the Senate will look at this and, in a bipartisan fashion, jump on board to fix a problem that is undermining one of our possible solutions to health care, which is that the Medicare trust fund is belly up.

There has been a lot of work done on this by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. It is my hope we will have their consent and cosponsorship for the bill.

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