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Mr. BLUMENAUER. I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy, and I strongly identify with the persistence and the eloquence from Chairman Johnson and my friend, Mr. Doggett, to deal with this problem of identity theft.
The hearing was a little unnerving. I appreciate the follow-through and, hopefully, something will happen. I identify strongly with the arguments you made on behalf of it.
But I would like to focus, if I could, on one other element because it's directly related. And I see my good friend, Mr. Gerlach, is here on the floor, and I anticipate will be speaking to it as well.
We should be concerned about maybe learning another lesson from the Department of Defense, which, as the chairman mentioned, is already using this for their purposes. Being able to use an opportunity for a Common Access Card for Medicare will have very important application to the area of rampant Medicare fraud.
Sixty billion dollars is the number we have heard in our subcommittee. It could be more, it could be less, but it's a huge sum of money, and it compounds going forward.
Our first concern, however, should be about the quality of care for the senior citizens who receive Medicare. And the Common Access Card, being able to digitally track this information, provides security for these transactions, makes it less likely that there will be mistakes, be able to follow up and follow through.
Second, it will, in fact, help us stop fraud. This is an area that has been relentlessly abused, where people order, there are changes in the order, sometimes orders are actually made that are entirely different than what people had requested.
Having this secure card will enable people to be able to have the security of the transaction, know where it's at, greater accuracy of billing, track mistakes, stop fraud. And I cannot say strongly enough that I think it's important for us to move.
I appreciate the work that was done putting a study over the next 2 years about this provision. But with all due respect, I hope, as this legislation works its way through Congress--and I hope that it is yet enacted while we are still here for the 112th Congress--that we're able to be serious not just about a 2-year study. This is an area in which we ought to be able to implement pilot projects right now across the country.
It would make a difference for the administration. I think there's no question we could come to scale very quickly, help senior citizens and the reliability of their Medicare coverage, reduce fraud, and allow government to track our activities going forward.
There's a lot of talk about the fiscal cliff and the need to save money and the back and forth that's going on here. But this provision that Mr. Gerlach and I are advancing is a simple, commonsense, bipartisan proposal that would help us right now improve service, save money, and improve the reliability of the system.
I would hope that this is the sort of provision that would find favor with our colleagues in the House, and with the administration, working together, we can implement those pilot projects sooner rather than later and have broader application for great, positive effect for Medicare, for the taxpayers.
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