(Extensions of Remarks - November 19, 1999)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2517]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                           HON. JUDY BIGGERT

                              of illinois

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, November 18, 1999

  Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Medicare 
Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Act of 1999.
  The vast majority of health care providers in this country are 
honest. Yet all large health care programs are vulnerable to 
exploitation, and Medicare is no exception. Over the past few years, 
Medicare fraud has skyrocketed, depriving millions of seniors quality 
care and bilking taxpayers out of literally billions of dollars.
  According to the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector 
General, in fiscal year 1998 alone, waste, fraud, abuse and other 
improper payments drained as much as $13 billion from the Medicare 
Trust Fund.
  How is this happening? Well, according to a June 1999 General 
Accounting Office examination of three states--North Carolina, Florida 
and my home state of Illinois--as many as 160 sham clinics, labs or 
medical-equipment companies have submitted fraudulent claims.
  For example, two doctors who submitted in excess of $690,000 in 
fraudulent Medicare claims listed nothing more than a Brooklyn, New 
York laundromat as their office location. In Florida, over $6 million 
in Medicare funds were sent to medical equipment companies that 
provided no services whatsoever; one of these companies even listed a 
fictitious address that turned out to be located in the middle of a 
runway at the Miami International Airport.
  Phony addresses and bogus providers add up to Medicare fraud and 
taxpayers being swindled out of billions of dollars.
  In an attempt to change this equation, I am introducing the Medicare 
Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Act of 1999. This legislation is 
designed to prevent waste, fraud and abuse by strengthening the 
Medicare enrollment process, expanding certain standards of 
participation, and reducing erroneous payments. Among other things, my 
bill gives additional tools to the federal law enforcement agencies 
that are pursuing health care swindlers.
  This bill is by no means a solution to Medicare fraud. But the 
Medicare Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Act of 1999 will make it more 
difficult for unscrupulous individuals to enter and take advantage of 
the Medicare system.
  It is my hope that, come the next legislative session, my colleagues 
will join me in making a commitment to preventing and detecting fraud 
and abuse.