The House Ways and Means Oversight and Health subcommittees on Thursday held a joint hearing on Medicare fraud, with lawmakers estimating that as much as 50% of the $10.8 billion in Medicare overpayments in 2006 were the result of fraud, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Oversight Subcommittee Chair John Lewis (D-Ga.) "put out feelers on a wide variety of topics," including dialysis services, medical equipment manufacturers, physician and hospital payments and other fraud schemes, CQ HealthBeat reports (Armstrong, CQ HealthBeat, 3/8).
U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta testified that some perpetrators of fraud consider penalties to be a minor "cost of doing business."
Acosta said prosecutors should pursue criminal charges in addition to civil lawsuits in fraud cases.
Stark said, "We aren't the Judiciary Committee, but I suspect we have the legislative authority to change penalties."
Lewis said he is "appalled" by reports of Medicare claims being filed for unnecessary hospital procedures performed on seniors (CongressDaily, 3/8).