Medicare

Medicare Anti-Fraud Pilot Program Saves $200 Million. Only $47.8 Billion In Improper Payments to Go.

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Medicare's new anti-fraud program, which changes the way durable medical equipment like power wheelchairs are paid for, is estimated to have saved $202 million* during its first year in operation, reports USA Today. Great! But don't get too excited. Considering the scale of fraud and payment foul-ups in the system, it's not much of a success: According to the Government Accountability Office, Medicare made $48 billion in improper payments in 2010. Others have suggested that fraud in government health programs costs $60 billion a year or more. Saving $200 million annually doesn't even really constitute winning a battle; at best it's more like firing a shot in the right direction.

Read "Medicare Thieves," my October 2011 feature on fraud in the government's biggest health system. 

*Update: Corrected to say $202 million, not $202. 

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  1. I think you dropped a million after $202. Although it says something about the government that I considered saving $202 plausible before I reread the title.

    1. Ha, same thing here. “We saved…202 dollars! See!”

      1. It’s like that I Love Lucy episode where she saved $300 by buying a dress for $500.

        Even my kids can figure out the fallacious logic.

        1. From this, I deduce your kids are male.

          1. Nah, only that they aren’t teenagers yet. That’s when the girls go all shop-happy.

  2. a rong journey begin w single step rasshopper.

    1. That’s true – a wrong journey does begin with a single step.

  3. I’d have liked to see better this year, too, but to act as if this is how it will be forever is not REASON-able. Each year the program will improve, and people will be less likely to commit fraud as they are more likely to get caught.

    And even with that fraud it is still less expensive and more generous than private-market insurance.

    1. Each year the program will improve, and people will be less likely to commit fraud as they are more likely to get caught.

      BWA HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

      And even with that fraud it is still less expensive and more generous than private-market insurance.

      BWA HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

    2. NAR|4.19.12 @ 10:55AM|#
      …”Each year the program will improve, and people will be less likely to commit fraud as they are more likely to get caught.”

      Yep. Adding new rules and regulations always improves compliance, right?
      Or, perhaps, the income of those paid to figure out how to avoid those new rules, like, oh, tax advisers…

    3. Urine? Dick? Tony? Mung? Is that one of you??

  4. I’m surprised they found that much. This is the government, remember? Every single penny they spend is absolutely critical. Also, stimulus and multiplier effect.

  5. I’m curious as to how much was spent to achieve those savings.

  6. Peter Suderman – AGAIN with the alt text! Loving it.

    1. +1

  7. As lame as this was, it’s more than 200 times larger than the whole GSA/Vegas conference, and almost as Medicare spent on penis pumps.

  8. Standard health lawyer disclaimer:

    When people talk about “fraud and abuse” in Medicare, they are most likely including the inadvertant billing errors that are inevitable in a complex, internally inconsistent system like Medicare uses.

    What normal people would consider “fraud” or “abuse” is a much smaller number.

    1. ^^ THIS. I’m taking a moment to slack off from my work, which is running a small medical billing company. I can tell you that the vast majority of “fraud” is simply lapses in keeping track of the ever-changing bullshit-fest which is Medicare compliance. How many other industries require skilled, experienced contractors to basically send out invoices? Compliance costs are skyrocketing and reimbursement rates (in the HME field where I work) have been getting cut every year.

  9. Is this $202 million before or after the cost of the program is factored in? McPaper doesn’t say.

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