U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Representatives Peter Roskam (R-IL-06) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03) this week introduced bipartisan legislation to protect seniors from identity theft and combat waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare system. The Medicare Common Access Card Act of 2015 (S. 1871/H.R. 3220) would update Medicare cards using chip technology similar to that in cards issued by the Department of Defense, in order to safeguard seniors' personal information and reduce Medicare fraud, which costs taxpayers upwards of $60 billion per year.
"Every time a senior citizen turns to our office for help because their identity has been stolen or they've been victimized through the Medicare program, I am sickened by the criminals who prey on them," Rubio said. "Seniors in Florida and across the country deserve state-of-the-art measures like this "Common Access Card' to help prevent fraud."
"Illinois seniors deserve the same level of security against identity theft as our men and women in uniform," said Kirk. "By utilizing smart technology, we can protect seniors and stop Medicare fraud before it happens."
"Medicare continues to suffer from a whopping 12.7 percent improper payment rate and lose over $60 billion annually to waste and fraud," said Roskam. "The CAC Act revolutionizes the way Medicare pays providers by making sure that claims are first verified with smart technology. The simple change of providing seniors with easy-to-use smart chip cards will help close the gap on the more than one billion dollars lost every week to false claims."
"Our seniors place a lot of trust in Medicare," said Blumenauer. "When we are seeing more and more hacking, we need to make sure that their personal information and identity is safe and secure. This commonsense legislation will not only better protect Medicare beneficiaries against identity theft, but also the integrity of the Medicare program and guard against fraud and abuse."
Currently, the 55 million Americans enrolled in Medicare use cards that display their social security numbers and other personal information on the front, putting them at risk of identity theft. The Medicare Common Access Card Act would utilize the same type of chip technology the Department of Defense uses in cards issued to men and women in uniform to make Medicare cards more secure. The chip technology would keep personal information secure and would give Medicare beneficiaries assurances their billing is accurate when they visit their doctor.
The new cards would also combat waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare -- which costs taxpayers an estimated $60 billion each year -- by addressing the flawed "pay and chase" system. Currently, the government pays Medicare reimbursements without first verifying the validity of the charges and then, if the charges prove to be fraudulent, attempts to track down those responsible. The Common Access Card will help stop fraud before it happens by adding a layer of security to Medicare transactions and ensuring patients and their providers billing Medicare are who they say they are.