Medicare was established to ensure that our nation's seniors have guaranteed access to the health care they need to see them through their later years. I am horrified and alarmed by the degree to which fraudsters take advantage of this system and steal taxpayer dollars for their own benefit. Medicare unknowingly pays an estimated $60 billion to scam artists every year.
I am proud of the steps we are taking to reduce fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that every $1 invested to fight fraud yields approximately $1.75 in savings. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provides $700 million over the next decade in new funds to fight fraud -- an investment that will come back to the taxpayers with interest.
Specifically, PPACA increases funding for the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Fund and the Medicaid and Medicare Integrity Programs to provide new resources to fight fraud. In addition, the bill empowers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to conduct background checks, site visits, and other enhanced oversight to weed out fraudulent providers before they start billing the program. The agency will also create a national pre-enrollment screening program for all providers, and require disclosure of prior association with delinquent providers or suppliers. Finally, the legislation institutes new controls on high-risk programs, like home health services or durable medical equipment, to ensure that only Medicare and Medicaid providers in good standing can provide these services.
Every dollar wasted to fraud is a dollar that could have provided health care to an older or disabled American. I will not rest until we can be sure that our tax dollars are spent wisely.
Physician Access for Medicare Beneficiaries:
When I have the privilege of meeting with seniors in my district, I often hear concern about access to physicians in the Medicare program. As the Baby Boomers age, we need to ensure that there will be a sufficient number of providers to meet their health care needs -- from those working in prevention and primary care to specialists able to care for the sickest individuals.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) addresses this issue head-on. The legislation increases reimbursement for primary care services in Medicare by 10%, and encourages training of primary care physicians. To ensure that seniors' care is coordinated, reducing the need for multiple, duplicative doctors' visits, PPACA encourages more collaboration and accountability among providers via bundling of payments and advancing of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Finally, for seniors living in rural areas, the bill extends key protections for rural providers to ensure access to care no matter where you live.
Medicare was designed as a guaranteed benefit for seniors who have paid into the program their entire working lives. No senior should worry whether or not they can find a doctor who will treat them -- rather, they should have their pick of a medical home that will provide all the care they need.