Schrader, Blue Dogs Build on Bipartisan Efforts to Streamline Government

Press Release

By:  Heath Shuler Jim Cooper Kurt Schrader Dan Boren John Barrow Mike Ross
Date: March 8, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Building on their efforts to streamline government and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently, the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition in the U.S. House of Representatives has endorsed a bipartisan bill to reduce waste, fraud, abuse and improper payments in Medicare and Medicaid. H.R. 3399, the Medicare and Medicaid FAST Act, led by Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and John Carney, D-Del., would help the government recoup billions of taxpayer dollars lost every year through fraud, improper payments and inefficiencies in both Medicare and Medicaid.

In Fiscal Year 2010, Medicare paid an estimated $50 billion in improper payments, while both Medicare and Medicaid continue to lose tens of billions dollars every year due to fraud. The FAST Act would primarily help both agencies phase out the practice of "pay and chase" -- where agencies pay a claim first and then later attempt to determine if the claim was valid -- by establishing stronger fraud and waste prevention strategies. The legislation would also enact stronger penalties for Medicare fraud; curb the theft of physician identities; expand the fraud identification network and reporting work of the Senior Medicare Patrol; take steps to help states identify and prevent Medicaid overpayments; improve the sharing of fraud data across agencies and programs; and, deploy cutting-edge technology to better identify and prevent fraud.

Last month, the Blue Dogs also threw their support behind H.R. 4053, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act (IPERIA), which is a bipartisan effort to better identify, prevent and recover payment error, waste, fraud and abuse across the federal government. The legislation would strengthen a similar improper payments law passed in 2010 that was part of the Blue Dogs' 2010 Blueprint for Fiscal Reform -- a 15-point plan to balance the budget and lay the groundwork for sound fiscal policies over the long term. H.R. 4053 would, among many other provisions, help federal agencies cut down on wasteful spending by creating a government-wide Do Not Pay List to block improper payments before they go out and to stop payments to deceased individuals, such as for Social Security.

"I applaud the strong bipartisan effort to rid of waste and abuse in our Medicare and Medicaid systems," said Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Fiscal Responsibility. "This is a good first step in strengthening these programs for America's seniors and saves our country billions of dollars a year in the process."

"Eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse from Medicaid and Medicare saves money for the American tax payers, while protecting the solvency of Medicaid and Medicare recipients," said Rep. Barrow, D-GA, Blue Dog Coalition Co-Chair for Policy. "This common sense legislation will stop wasteful spending before it happens, instead of wasting more money to recover wasteful spending after it's already happened."

"Medicare and Medicaid fraudsters are stealing from taxpayers, so we have to stop Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse," said Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., Vice Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Fiscal Responsibility.

"It makes no sense for Medicare and Medicaid to send out the checks first, and then spend time and money to make sure it went to the right person. They should get it right from the beginning," said Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. "We've got to change the way the government does business through bipartisan, commonsense reforms like the FAST Act. While the Blue Dogs continue their focus on the "go big' effort to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years, we will continue to comb the federal budget to find savings anywhere we can, and we will continue working with both sides to better respect taxpayer dollars."

"The FAST Act is yet another initiative the Blue Dogs have endorsed to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government and save billions of taxpayer dollars every year," said Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., Blue Dog Co-Chair for Administration. "Any serious plan to reduce our nation's $15 trillion debt must include reforms to eliminate unnecessary spending and prevent fraud in entitlement programs. The FAST Act is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that achieves both of these goals, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this legislation."

"We owe it to the American people to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse within Medicare and Medicaid. Eliminating the need for the flawed "pay and chase' method of payments is another step in ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly," said Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., Blue Dog Whip.

The Medicare and Medicaid FAST Act is endorsed by AARP, Citizens Against Government Waste, National Taxpayers Union, America's Health Insurance Providers, National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association and many other tax reform and health care organizations.

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