By Jessie Gibbons, Legislative Assistant
Each year, Medicare and Medicaid – two of the government's largest and most financially strapped programs – lose tens of billions of dollars to fraud, waste, and abuse. Deficit hawks in Congress have been offering cost-saving proposals for years that would cut benefits and increase cost-sharing for seniors, but for the most part, they have ignored the potential savings that could come from fraud prevention. Recently, a group of four lawmakers introduced a common-sense bill that The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) has enthusiastically endorsed: the Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures (PRIME) Act.
The PRIME Act, if signed into law, would do the following, among other things:
- enact stronger fraud penalties;
- curb improper or mistaken government payments;
- phase out the inefficient and ineffective "pay and chase" practice;
- curb the theft of physician identities;
- expand the work of the Senior Medicare Patrol;
- take steps to help beneficiaries identify fraud; and,
- improve the sharing of data across state programs and federal agencies.
The sponsors of the PRIME Act – a bipartisan group that includes Senator Tom Carper (DE), Senator Tom Coburn (OK), Representative John Carney (DE), and Representative Peter Roskam (IL-6) – believe that their bill could save billions of dollars each year, reducing the need for Medicare and Medicaid benefit cuts. Sen. Carper recently said of the bill: "The PRIME Act is what I like to call a win-win for those of us who are concerned about protecting Medicare and Medicaid by ensuring that [they] have the resources to provide excellent care for beneficiaries, and that taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly and effectively."
TSCL could not agree more with Sen. Carper, and since the PRIME Act was introduced in June, our legislative team has been working tirelessly to help build support for it. We strongly feel that the government is not currently administering the oversight that is needed to ensure that scarce program dollars are being spent properly. It is well understood that the failure to manage fraud, waste, and abuse results in higher taxes for all Americans and higher premiums for Medicare beneficiaries. By adopting the PRIME Act, Congress could increase the solvency of the two programs responsibly, without enacting cuts for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
TSCL sincerely hopes that Congress adopts the PRIME Act by the end of the 113th Congress, and we urge our members and supporters to call their Representatives to request their support. To find contact information for your Members of Congress or to learn more about legislation that TSCL supports, view our legislative updates.