Static spending under the Republican measure to fund the federal government for the remainder of the current fiscal year would undercut Medicare and Medicaid anti-fraud efforts, according to administration officials.
GOP plan seen hurting anti-fraud efforts
Administration initiatives, including an expansion of anti-fraud “strike forces” to 20 cities from seven and increasing the number of complex, expensive prosecutions, would not occur under House Republicans' budget for the remainder of fiscal 2011. The Republican measure would keep such anti-fraud efforts static at $311 million, while President Barack Obama's budget would increase such efforts by $270 million.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) described such static funding as “a classic case of penny-wise-pound-foolish budgeting” during a hearing on healthcare fraud Tuesday before his Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies subcommittee. His criticism stemmed from the finding by administration officials that nearly $7 in federal healthcare funds were recovered for every $1 spent combating fraud, waste and abuse over the past three years.
“The money we have spent on healthcare fraud enforcement is one of the best investments we can make as taxpayers,” said Tony West, assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, during testimony before the panel.
The loss of additional anti-fraud funds, according to Dr. Peter Budetti, deputy administrator of the CMS, also would prevent an expansion of the list of Medicare beneficiaries whose claims are watched because their identification numbers have been obtained by fraudsters.
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