Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
MEDICARE FRAUD PREVENTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 1999
(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 [www.gpo.gov] MEDICARE FRAUD PREVENTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 1999 ______ 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. ____________________