U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse this week introduced the Telemarketing Fraud Modernization Act of 2012, legislation to close loopholes in the existing statute and give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to rein in scam artists, protect our nation's seniors, and strengthen the integrity of the Medicare program. The bill is cosponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
"Individuals who commit Medicare fraud aren't simply stealing from the government; they are stealing from our nation's seniors and every man and woman who has paid into the system," said Whitehouse. "We have an obligation to ensure that Medicare dollars are spent keeping seniors healthy, and not lining the pockets of predatory opportunists. This legislation updates our laws to protect consumers and secure the integrity of Medicare by preventing waste and fraud."
"Prosecutors need better tools to crack down on criminals who prey on our seniors using telecommunications fraud," said Blumenthal. "This legislation would strengthen the current statute to protect taxpayers and ensure that anyone who exploits seniors faces harsher penalties, preventing billions of dollars in waste that results from telecommunications fraud."
The legislation does not create new crimes; it simply makes a broader range of already illegal fraudulent conduct directed at seniors eligible for enhanced penalties. Federal prosecutors believe the existing telemarketing fraud statute no longer covers many of the types of fraud directed at seniors and the modes of communication used to perpetrate that fraud.
Senator Whitehouse has long been a leader in the battle to protect our seniors from deceptive practices and save taxpayer dollars. In March 2012, he convened a hearing of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime & Terrorism in Rhode Island to examine efforts to prevent, investigate, and prosecute health care fraud. Whitehouse also cosponsored and worked on bipartisan legislation, signed into law in 2010, which requires Medicare to adopt state-of-the-art predictive modeling systems like those currently in place at banks and credit card companies to identify potentially fraudulent claims and billing patterns before taxpayer funds are spent.