Medicare has paid out millions of dollars in benefits to dead patients and illegal immigrants, according to a report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Medicare paid $23 million to patients who had died in 2011 and $29 million in drug benefits to illegal immigrants from 2009 to 2011, reports the Washington Times
Investigators said that while the Medicare system has safeguards built in to try to stop payments after patients have died, it still ended up sending out the $23 million.
Similarly, investigators reported that from 2009-2011 more than 4,100 illegal immigrants were able to file 279,056 claims under the Part D drug benefit program because the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did not have controls in place to specifically deny the drug claims. The system, however, does prevent applications from illegal immigrants for other Medicare services.
The agency, which is also responsible for overseeing and fixing the Obamacare website, acknowledged the problems with the system and said it was taking steps to fix them.
"The CMS is committed to preventing or recovering Medicare payments made on behalf of deceased beneficiaries," CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner wrote in response to the report, according to The Daily Caller
"We agree that in cases where the information indicates an individual is not lawfully present in the United States, that individual should not be permitted to enroll or to remain enrolled in a Part D plan during the period where he or should is not eligible to receive federal benefits," she said.
Sen. Tom Coburn, a medical doctor, said the report was worrying because CMS had been warned of the problems five years earlier, according to the Times.
"Every individual wrongfully awarded benefits, be it the deceased of undocumented, diverts scarce resources away from those who need it most," the Oklahoma Republican said.
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