Rep. Issa: More Needed to Avoid Govt Fraud

Tuesday, 19 Apr 2011 06:25 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa says moves to put monitoring systems in place could alleviate waste and fraud in government spending — $125 billion in 2010 alone — specifically when it comes to federal healthcare delivery expenditures. Such measures could pay for themselves “in a matter of days or weeks,” said Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“Medicare, Medicaid represent the largest amount of improper payments, because there you’re dealing with the ability for frauds, or for legitimate doctors or hospitals to make requests that are simply improper and still get them paid,” the California Republican told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “There’s very little double checking. One of the problems with our healthcare delivery in Medicare and Medicaid is it gives away a lot of money — it does very little oversight over that money being properly spent.

“If we were to put hundreds of millions — or even a billion dollars — into state-of- the-art, forensic real-time assessment . . .  it would pay for itself in a matter of days or weeks,” Issa said. “That’s why we’ve got to start looking at putting the systems in that actually deliver savings — and we haven’t done that for a long time. And this year’s budget — even though I approve of the cuts that were in it — cut a couple of areas that I would not have done.”

Van Susteren asked whether any of the $125 billion wasted in fiscal year 2010, as the Government Accountability Office reported last week, has been recovered.

“Very little, Greta. The fact is that by the time you go and do the forensics, often it’s very difficult,” Issa replied. “And even when you go to do it, sometimes it ends up being an agreed-on amount less. But more importantly, healthcare providers and others are, in fact, in doubt as to whether or not they’re billing correctly regularly.

“Government does a great job of saying they are stewards of the taxpayers’ money — well, there’s really no built-in incentives to have these kinds of savings. It’s one of the changes that has to happen,” he said. “We’ve got to not only crank down the screws on how much agencies get in the way of money, but we’ve got to find ways to actually let them invest in less wasteful spending. and use some of that money to invest again in better forensics and so on.

“Right now, that’s a problem government-wide.”

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