MEDICARE IDENTITY THEFT PREVENTION ACT OF 2012
(House of Representatives - December 19, 2012)

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[Pages H7309-H7313]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




             MEDICARE IDENTITY THEFT PREVENTION ACT OF 2012

  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules 
and pass the bill (H.R. 1509) to amend title II of the Social Security 
Act to prohibit the inclusion of Social Security account numbers on 
Medicare cards, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 1509

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Medicare Identity Theft 
     Prevention Act of 2012''.

     SEC. 2. PROHIBITION OF INCLUSION OF SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT 
                   NUMBERS ON MEDICARE CARDS.

       (a) In General.--Section 205(c)(2)(C) of the Social 
     Security Act (42 U.S.C. 405(c)(2)(C)) is amended--
       (1) by moving clause (x), as added by section 1414(a)(2) of 
     the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 2 ems to the 
     left;
       (2) by redesignating clause (x), as added by section 
     2(a)(1) of the Social Security Number Protection Act of 2010, 
     and clause (xi) as clauses (xi) and (xii), respectively; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following new clause:
       ``(xiii) The Secretary of Health and Human Services, in 
     consultation with the Commissioner of Social Security, shall 
     establish cost-effective procedures to ensure that a Social 
     Security account number (or derivative thereof) is not 
     displayed, coded, or embedded on the Medicare card issued to 
     an individual who is entitled to benefits under part A of 
     title XVIII or enrolled under part B of title XVIII and that 
     any other identifier displayed on such card is not 
     identifiable as a Social Security account number (or 
     derivative thereof).''.
       (b) Implementation.--In implementing clause (xiii) of 
     section 205(c)(2)(C) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
     405(c)(2)(C)), as added by subsection (a)(3), the Secretary 
     of Health and Human Services shall establish a cost-effective 
     process that involves the least amount of disruption to 
     Medicare beneficiaries and health care providers. The 
     Secretary shall consider implementing a process, similar to 
     the process involving Railroad Retirement Board 
     beneficiaries, under which a Medicare beneficiary identifier 
     which is not a Social Security account number (or derivative 
     thereof) is used external to the Department of Health and 
     Human Services and is convertible over to a Social Security 
     account number (or derivative thereof) for use internal to 
     such Department and the Social Security Administration.
       (c) Effective Date.--
       (1) In general.--Clause (xiii) of section 205(c)(2)(C) of 
     the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 405(c)(2)(C)), as added by 
     subsection (a)(3), shall apply with respect to Medicare cards 
     issued on and after an effective date specified by the 
     Secretary of Health and Human Services, but in no case shall 
     such effective date be later than the date that is 3 years 
     after the date of the enactment of this Act.
       (2) Reissuance.--The Secretary--
       (A) shall provide for the reissuance of Medicare cards that 
     comply with the requirements of such clause not later than 3 
     years after the effective date specified by the Secretary 
     under paragraph (1); and
       (B) may permit an individual to apply for the reissuance of 
     a Medicare card that complies with such requirements before 
     the date of reissuance otherwise provided under subparagraph 
     (A) in such exceptional circumstances as the Secretary may 
     specify.
       (d) Funding.--
       (1) Offset from mif.--Amounts in the Medicare Improvement 
     Fund under section 1898 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
     1395iii) that are available for expenditures from the Fund 
     for services furnished in a fiscal year (through fiscal year 
     2020) shall be available for transfer to the Centers for 
     Medicare & Medicaid Services Program Management Account as 
     the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines 
     necessary to offset the costs incurred by the Secretary 
     (including costs under the agreement described in paragraph 
     (2)(A)) in such fiscal year (or a previous fiscal year) in 
     implementing clause (xiii) of section 205(c)(2)(C) of such 
     Act (42 U.S.C. 405(c)(2)(C)), as added by subsection (a)(3), 
     and this section.
       (2) Availability of funding for the social security 
     administration.--
       (A) Funding under agreement.--The Commissioner of Social 
     Security and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall 
     enter into and maintain an agreement which shall--
       (i) provide funds to the Commissioner, at scheduled 
     intervals as specified in the agreement, for the full costs 
     of the responsibilities of the Commissioner under this 
     section; and
       (ii) require an annual accounting and reconciliation of the 
     actual costs incurred and the funds provided under the 
     agreement.
       (B) Availability of funds.--Amounts transferred to the 
     Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Program Management 
     Account under paragraph (1) shall be available to the 
     Secretary of Health and Human Services to carry out the 
     agreement under subparagraph (A) and the Secretary shall 
     provide funds to the Commissioner as required under such 
     agreement.
       (e) Accountability.--
       (1) Accounting of expenditures.--The Secretary of Health 
     and Human Services and the Commissioner of Social Security 
     shall--
       (A) keep a detailed accounting of expenditures associated 
     with the implementation of such clause and this section; and

[[Page H7310]]

       (B) submit a report on such expenditures to the Committee 
     on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the 
     Committee on Finance of the Senate, and the Comptroller 
     General of the United States, on a semi-annual basis, in each 
     of fiscal years 2013 through 2021.
       (2) Audit.--The Comptroller General shall conduct a semi-
     annual financial audit of the expenditures of the Department 
     of Health and Human Services and of the Social Security 
     Administration during such fiscal years in implementing such 
     clause and this section. Each such audit shall include an 
     examination of whether funds made available under subsection 
     (d) are used solely for the purpose described in such 
     subsection.

     SEC. 3. MEDICARE SMART CARD TECHNOLOGY STUDY AND REPORT.

       (a) Study.--The Comptroller General of the United States 
     shall conduct a study that examines whether the Medicare 
     program should use smart card technology for Medicare 
     beneficiary cards and for provider membership cards.
       (b) Details of Study.--Such study shall include an 
     examination of the following:
       (1) Potential levels of provider investment required to use 
     cards with such technology in various care settings.
       (2) Systems-related and implementation-related costs to the 
     Medicare program to use such technology.
       (3) The extent to which private insurance companies have 
     adopted or considered such technology and their reasons for 
     adoption or non-adoption of such technology.
       (4) The extent to which use of cards with such technology 
     would--
       (A) reduce the potential for identity theft and other 
     unlawful use of Medicare beneficiary and provider identifying 
     information;
       (B) increase the quality of care furnished to Medicare 
     beneficiaries;
       (C) improve the accuracy and efficiency in the billing for 
     Medicare items and services furnished by Medicare providers;
       (D) reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare program; 
     and
       (E) impact the ability of Medicare beneficiaries to access 
     services.
       (c) Report.--Not later than 2 years after the date of the 
     enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit 
     to the Committees on Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce 
     of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Finance 
     of the Senate a report on the study conducted under this 
     section. Such report may include recommendations regarding 
     the use of smart card technology under the Medicare program.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Sam Johnson) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Doggett) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sam Johnson).


                             General Leave

  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that 
all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend 
their remarks and insert extraneous materials in the Record.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Today, the House considers legislation that has long been a 
bipartisan priority of the Committee on Ways and Means, protecting 
seniors from identity theft. Identity theft is a lasting and 
devastating crime. Victims spend years having to prove who they are 
while monitoring credit reports, fending off collection agencies for 
charges they never made, or the IRS for taxes they don't owe. Some are 
even picked up by law enforcement for crimes committed by the ID thief 
using their name. Seniors have every reason to be concerned.
  According to the Department of Justice, 8.6 million households 
experienced identity theft in 2010. Over 1 million of these households 
are headed by seniors at risk of having their Social Security numbers 
stolen. Fraud involving government documents accounted for 27 percent 
of the identity theft complaints in 2011, making it the most common and 
fastest growing form of identity theft complaint according to the 
Federal Trade Commission.
  Mr. Speaker, we know Americans are told not to carry their Social 
Security cards in case a wallet or purse is lost or stolen. Yet seniors 
are told they must carry their Medicare card which displays their 
Social Security number. Not only does this not make sense; it puts 
seniors at risk. The largest seniors organization in America agrees. 
According to AARP:

       All Medicare patients must carry a benefits card that 
     displays their Social Security number. Such easy assess to 
     sensitive information makes the cards a hot target for 
     identity thieves who want to file false claims.

  Mr. Speaker, the Medicare Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2012 
requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation 
with the Commissioner of Social Security, to take action to ensure 
Social Security numbers no longer are used on Medicare cards. It 
requires the Secretary to develop a cost-effective way to do that, with 
as little impact as possible on Medicare beneficiaries and health care 
providers.
  Further, funds from the Medicare Improvement Fund are made available 
to pay for implementation costs. According to CBO, the costs of this 
bill are fully offset and would not increase the deficit.
  Lastly, the bill directs GAO to conduct a study to determine whether 
the Medicare program should use smart card technology, an idea advanced 
by my colleagues, Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania and Earl Blumenauer of 
Oregon, to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare program.
  Members should know this isn't the first time CMS has been directed 
to act. Starting in 2002, GAO first called for ending the use of Social 
Security numbers on government documents. Then in 2005, fiscal year 
2006, the Labor-HHS bill urged the Secretary to accelerate planning for 
removing Social Security numbers and asked for a report. And then in 
2007, OMB issued a directive to all Federal agencies to develop plans 
for reducing the use of Social Security numbers. And then in 2008, my 
colleague Lloyd Doggett and I brought a bill to the floor that passed 
by voice vote to end the use of Social Security numbers on Medicare 
cards. Most recently, at an August 2012 Ways and Means Committee joint 
subcommittee hearing, GAO questioned CMS's lack of a serious plan to 
stop displaying the Social Security number.
  While CMS fails to act, both the public and private sectors are 
working to protect their customers and businesses from identity theft. 
The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are removing Social 
Security numbers from their ID and medical cards, and I applaud them 
for taking that action. Private health insurance and many others ended 
the use of Social Security numbers on public documents a long time ago. 
And even CMS knows better. It won't allow insurers in the Medicare 
Advantage and part D drug benefit programs to use Social Security 
numbers on their enrollees' cards.
  The time to protect our nearly 50 million Americans carrying Medicare 
cards with their personal information is long overdue. It's high time 
that Congress passes this commonsense bill. There's no reason why 
American seniors have to continue to be put at risk of ID theft. We 
need to act right now, and I urge all of my colleagues to vote ``yes'' 
and pass the Medicare Identity Theft Prevention Act today.
  With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Johnson for his leadership on this, and 
I concur fully with the remarks he made.
  In 2008, I filed this piece of legislation with Chairman Johnson's 
help. At that time, we worked together and passed it through the House, 
and the Senate failed to act.

                              {time}  1450

  And since that time, whether it was under a Republican or Democratic 
administration, there has not been sufficient priority placed on this 
by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to address this 
question of privacy. It is a serious matter. It clearly requires 
legislation, and this time, hopefully, the Senate will respond to our 
bipartisan initiative and get it passed into law.
  There are, indeed, about 48 million Americans, seniors, individuals 
with disabilities, who are carrying in their wallet or purse today 
something that makes them vulnerable to identity theft, and that 
something is their Medicare card.
  Apart from the Social Security card itself, the Medicare card is the 
most frequently issued government document that displays a Social 
Security number, and that practice invites foul play.
  It was back in 2007 when the Bush administration, recognizing this 
danger

[[Page H7311]]

by the overuse of Social Security numbers, sent out a directive to 
Federal agencies to eliminate the use of Social Security numbers and 
explore alternative identifiers. Despite this directive, Medicare has 
not yet taken appropriate steps to remove the numbers from Medicare 
cards.
  Although we have bipartisan agreement on the severity of the problem, 
we also have had bipartisan administrative inaction when it comes to 
addressing it. Clearly, we need congressional action.
  To protect both the savings and the peace of mind of Medicare 
beneficiaries, this bipartisan legislation would require Medicare to 
take steps that private companies, the Department of Defense, and the 
Department of Veterans Affairs have already taken to protect the 
identities of those that they serve.
  Every time that a senior or an individual with disabilities hands 
over their Medicare card to a health care provider or elsewhere, they 
are handing over the keys to their financial security. With increasing 
sophistication by identity thieves, inaction again here is simply 
unacceptable.
  Seniors who have saved, who have built a lifetime of financial 
security and their reputations are all at stake. Their savings and 
their credit should not be put needlessly at risk if someone steals a 
Medicare card or it gets misplaced or left with a provider by mistake.
  Medicare should make sure that it does no harm to the financial 
security and credit rating of those that it serves with health care 
security. This act will help to ensure that the government better 
protects our seniors, denying thieves access to this critical data. 
Inaction would jeopardize in a continuing way the safety of so many.
  This legislation, when we previously introduced it, was supported by 
Consumers Union, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and 
Medicare, the Silver Haired Legislature, nationally and in Texas, as 
well as the Elder Justice Coalition.
  Seniors confront many threats to retirement security these days, but 
this bill will be directed toward one that we can do something about 
immediately, and that's those who would swindle our seniors.
  I urge adoption of the measure, and reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the 
gentlewoman from Kansas (Ms. Jenkins), a member of the Committee on 
Ways and Means.
  Ms. JENKINS. I thank the gentleman from Texas for yielding, and would 
like to commend Chairman Johnson and Congressman Doggett for their 
leadership on this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, today there are nearly 50 million Medicare beneficiaries 
who are told to carry their Medicare cards with them at all times while 
simultaneously being told not to carry their Social Security card. They 
are told that carrying their Social Security card in their purse or 
wallet puts them at risk of identity theft, which is a problem that 
affects 1 million seniors yearly.
  The irony is that the Medicare cards all feature beneficiaries' 
Social Security numbers prominently. This means that our seniors are in 
a tight spot. They are at risk of identity theft simply by carrying 
their Medicare card with them.
  I support passage of this bill because it would ensure that a 
person's Social Security Number is no longer printed on their Medicare 
card. This bipartisan, commonsense measure will ensure that the 115,000 
Medicare enrollees in my district will be safe from identity theft.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, one addition to this bill from 2008 deals 
with the question of Medicare fraud. I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman 
from Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer), the cosponsor of legislation dealing with 
that and a member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, to discuss 
this important addition.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy, and I strongly 
identify with the persistence and the eloquence from Chairman Johnson 
and my friend, Mr. Doggett, to deal with this problem of identity 
theft.
  The hearing was a little unnerving. I appreciate the follow-through 
and, hopefully, something will happen. I identify strongly with the 
arguments you made on behalf of it.
  But I would like to focus, if I could, on one other element because 
it's directly related. And I see my good friend, Mr. Gerlach, is here 
on the floor, and I anticipate will be speaking to it as well.
  We should be concerned about maybe learning another lesson from the 
Department of Defense, which, as the chairman mentioned, is already 
using this for their purposes. Being able to use an opportunity for a 
Common Access Card for Medicare will have very important application to 
the area of rampant Medicare fraud.
  Sixty billion dollars is the number we have heard in our 
subcommittee. It could be more, it could be less, but it's a huge sum 
of money, and it compounds going forward.
  Our first concern, however, should be about the quality of care for 
the senior citizens who receive Medicare. And the Common Access Card, 
being able to digitally track this information, provides security for 
these transactions, makes it less likely that there will be mistakes, 
be able to follow up and follow through.
  Second, it will, in fact, help us stop fraud. This is an area that 
has been relentlessly abused, where people order, there are changes in 
the order, sometimes orders are actually made that are entirely 
different than what people had requested.
  Having this secure card will enable people to be able to have the 
security of the transaction, know where it's at, greater accuracy of 
billing, track mistakes, stop fraud. And I cannot say strongly enough 
that I think it's important for us to move.
  I appreciate the work that was done putting a study over the next 2 
years about this provision. But with all due respect, I hope, as this 
legislation works its way through Congress--and I hope that it is yet 
enacted while we are still here for the 112th Congress--that we're able 
to be serious not just about a 2-year study. This is an area in which 
we ought to be able to implement pilot projects right now across the 
country.
  It would make a difference for the administration. I think there's no 
question we could come to scale very quickly, help senior citizens and 
the reliability of their Medicare coverage, reduce fraud, and allow 
government to track our activities going forward.
  There's a lot of talk about the fiscal cliff and the need to save 
money and the back and forth that's going on here. But this provision 
that Mr. Gerlach and I are advancing is a simple, commonsense, 
bipartisan proposal that would help us right now improve service, save 
money, and improve the reliability of the system.
  I would hope that this is the sort of provision that would find favor 
with our colleagues in the House, and with the administration, working 
together, we can implement those pilot projects sooner rather than 
later and have broader application for great, positive effect for 
Medicare, for the taxpayers.
  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gerlach), who is a member of the 
Committee on Ways and Means.
  Mr. GERLACH. Mr. Speaker, I want to first acknowledge the hard work 
and leadership of my colleague on the Ways and Means Committee, Mr. 
Johnson of Texas, as well as our committee chairman, Mr. Camp of 
Michigan. Both gentlemen recognize the urgency of finding practical 
solutions for protecting seniors and taxpayers against easily 
preventable Medicare waste, fraud and improper payments, and the ever 
increasing threat of identity theft.
  Mr. Speaker, whenever someone in Washington proposes a new idea for 
shrinking costs and saving precious taxpayer dollars, we usually 
receive a barrage of questions from folks concerned that they will have 
to do with less and possibly see services they depend upon curtailed in 
some way.
  This legislation we're considering today contains provisions that 
would kick-start a critically important process that ultimately may 
allow Congress to use commonsense technology in cutting an estimated 
$60 billion a year in improper and fraudulent Medicare payments while 
making sure seniors enrolled in Medicare receive the care and treatment 
they have earned.

                              {time}  1500

  We're attempting to cut costs without restricting access to care. 
Specifically, this legislation authorizes a

[[Page H7312]]

study by the Government Accountability Office examining the benefits of 
a proposed pilot program to modernize the Medicare card that almost 
every senior carries with him or her in a wallet or a pocketbook. Under 
the proposed pilot program as introduced in legislation by my colleague 
Congressman Blumenauer and myself, as part of the Medicare Common 
Access Card Act, smart card technology would be used to protect 
personal information of Medicare participants, prevent phantom billing 
for procedures that were never performed or products that were never 
purchased, and speed payments to doctors and hospitals while reducing 
costly billing errors.
  While today's Medicare card provides seniors access to the health 
care services they need, that small piece of plastic can provide the 
narrow opening unscrupulous individuals exploit to snatch identities 
and cheat taxpayers and seniors out of billions of dollars every year.
  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 
waste, fraud, and abuse cost the Medicare program about $60 billion a 
year. Nearly 10 percent of the entire annual Medicare budget--or 
approximately $48 billion a year--is lost to improper payments, 
according to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office. 
That's a significant amount of human resources and financial resources 
that are better used helping our seniors pay for hospital visits, 
prescription drugs, and other vital medical care.
  The Department of Defense has issued more than 20 million secure 
smart cards to authenticate and verify access for access to programs 
and facilities. To date, the Department of Defense reports that not a 
single common access card has been counterfeited.
  We cannot stop improper payments in the Medicare system until we find 
a way to know and to verify who is authorized to provide and receive 
benefits. A comprehensive study is an important first step that will 
make sure we get the job done right for taxpayers, seniors, doctors, 
and other health care providers.
  Taxpayers and seniors deserve the protection against identity theft 
and fraud that this legislation would provide, and I urge my colleagues 
to begin the process of putting in place a simple, low-cost solution 
for bringing the Medicare card into the 21st century, and I thank the 
gentleman for leading this effort.
  Mr. DOGGETT. I yield 2 minutes to the ranking member of the Health 
Subcommittee on the Commerce Committee, the gentleman from New Jersey 
(Mr. Pallone).
  Mr. PALLONE. I thank my colleague from Texas.
  Mr. Speaker, I, like many of my colleagues, am concerned with the 
problem of identity theft--particularly identity theft from elderly 
individuals, who can be viewed as easy victims by unscrupulous 
criminals. I think we all agree that a commonsense step to prevent 
identity theft and further protect beneficiaries is to remove 
beneficiary Social Security numbers from their Medicare cards, but it's 
important to point out that this is not as easy as it would seem at 
first glance.
  Medicare has dozens of claims processing systems, each that will need 
to be modified to accept a new beneficiary number. Providers, too, will 
have to ensure their billing systems can accommodate the new numbers. 
We will need an extensive education campaign to ensure that a new 
numbering system or the issuance of new cards doesn't simply present a 
golden opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to find a new way to 
rip off seniors.
  Now, I certainly support the policy goal of H.R. 1509, the Medicare 
Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2012. This bill provides approximately 
$300 million to the Secretary of HHS to move forward on removing Social 
Security numbers from ID cards, yet we do not know whether that amount 
is sufficient. I'm concerned that if we fail to provide sufficient 
funding for this task, we may wind up with a programmatic mess, 
confusion, or even worse. I think we owe it to the Medicare 
beneficiaries and providers to ensure that this worthy undertaking is 
done well. In addition, the bill allows for funding of the Social 
Security Administration's costs but not the costs of the Medicare 
agency itself, and that's an issue that has to be addressed.
  So as we move forward, Mr. Speaker, we must make sure that the 
funding is sufficient and that both CMS and SSA can equitably access 
these funds. Beneficiary identity security depends on it.
  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Herger), also a member on the Ways and 
Means Committee and chairman on the Subcommittee on Health.
  Mr. HERGER. I thank my good friend from Texas.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in strong support of H.R. 1509, which is 
commonsense, bipartisan legislation that will protect our Nation's 
seniors.
  I do not doubt that many of us have received letters from 
constituents who have faced problems due to their Social Security 
number being compromised. Over the years, I've held a number of forums 
in my northern California district to raise awareness about identity 
theft and financial scams targeting senior citizens. I've heard 
complaints from many of these constituents that, while the public 
increasingly understands the importance of safeguarding personal 
information, Medicare isn't doing its part. With today's vote, we take 
the first step towards removing these numbers from the Medicare cards 
that beneficiaries are encouraged to carry with them at all times. 
We've heard too many excuses over the years, and it is becoming clear 
to me that CMS simply isn't interested in protecting seniors and people 
with disabilities from identity theft. Importantly, this legislation 
will not increase the deficit.
  H.R. 1509 also includes a study to examine the use of smart card 
technology in the Medicare program. Some technology stakeholders have 
expressed concerns with the duration of the 2-year study. If GAO is 
able to complete the study on a more expedited timeframe, I would be 
happy to work with Congressman Gerlach and the technology community to 
shorten this deadline as the bill moves through the legislative 
process.
  Given the inaction at CMS on removing Social Security numbers from 
Medicare cards, it is time for the Congress to lead. It is time to take 
this long overdue, commonsense approach and protect America's seniors. 
I urge passage of H.R. 1509.
  Mr. DOGGETT. I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Minnesota (Mr. Paulsen), a member of the Ways and Means Committee and 
acting chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Resources.
  Mr. PAULSEN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Medicare Identity Theft 
Prevention Act.
  With the constant growth of technology and, as an unfortunate result, 
identity theft, I have received numerous inquiries from my 
constituents--and in particular, seniors--about what we are doing and 
the need to protect people from identity theft. Earlier this year, I 
also held a seminar in my district with seniors about identity theft, 
and it was very well attended.
  In 2010, nearly 7 percent of households were victims of identity 
theft. Of those households, over 1 million were headed by seniors. 
Today, nearly 50 million Medicare cards display the Social Security 
number. Social Security numbers are absolutely one of the most valuable 
pieces of personal identity that we have, therefore making it a top 
target for criminals.
  For years, the General Accounting Office and the Social Security 
special inspector general have recommended and asked Congress to remove 
the Social Security numbers from Medicare cards because it is an 
unnecessary risk for seniors. That's exactly what this legislation 
does. It will help prevent seniors from becoming victims of these types 
of theft and fraud by removing the Social Security number from those 
Medicare cards.
  I'm pleased to be a cosponsor and actively support this legislation. 
This is common sense. This is bipartisan. There's no reason for delay. 
We can stop putting seniors at unnecessary risk.
  I want to thank, in particular, the subcommittee chairman, Mr. 
Johnson, as well as Congressman Doggett for their bipartisan leadership 
on this effort and bringing it to the floor before the end of the year.

[[Page H7313]]

  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Marchant), a member of the Committee on Ways 
and Means.
  Mr. MARCHANT. I rise to support the Medicare Identity Theft 
Prevention Act of 2012. This is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that 
would establish cost-effective procedures to help protect the identity 
of all seniors.
  Seniors are a high-risk demographic for identity theft. Identity 
thieves have targeted seniors in my district in Texas and across the 
country. This year's Centers for Medicare Services inspector general 
report found that more than a quarter million Medicare beneficiaries 
have been potential victims of identity theft.

                              {time}  1510

  Most Medicare cards currently use Social Security numbers as the 
identifier. By removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards, 
this bill gives seniors the identity protection that they deserve. 
Seniors work their entire lives for financial security, and that 
security should not be jeopardized due to preventable identity theft. 
Other Federal programs and private insurance plans made similar changes 
years ago, and Medicare beneficiaries should have the same level of 
identity protection and security.
  I'm proud to support this legislation, and I urge my colleagues to do 
so.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas, my 
colleague, Chairman Johnson, and I hope the Senate will respond this 
time to our action.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Thank you, Mr. Doggett.
  I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, despite increasing pressure from this committee and this 
House, CMS has refused to act to remove Social Security numbers from 
Medicare cards. If CMS won't act, we must. This commonsense bill is a 
vital step in protecting our Nation's seniors from identity theft, and 
we can't afford to put seniors at risk any longer. Medicare 
beneficiaries want, need, and deserve better. I urge all my colleagues 
to vote ``yes,'' and I hope the Senate will act immediately to pass 
this legislation.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. REICHERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Medicare 
Identity Theft Prevention Act. I applaud Chairman Johnson and 
Representative Doggett for introducing this bill and bringing it to the 
floor.
  America's seniors are some of our most valued citizens. They have 
spent their lives working hard and preparing for their much deserved 
``golden years.'' It seems only fitting, then, that we reward their 
hard work and labor by protecting them. That's our job.
  Under current law, Social Security numbers are used as the main 
component of a Medicare beneficiary's health insurance claim number and 
are displayed on over 50 million Medicare ID cards. This simply doesn't 
make sense. It puts each of these 50 million people at heightened risk 
for identity theft and fraud. We've already seen high rates for this 
type of crime: in 2010 alone over 8.6 million households were victims 
of ID theft, including one million seniors. Seniors' social security 
numbers are especially valuable because they can be used by thieves to 
obtain employment, benefits, and credit.
  The GAO first recommended removing social security numbers from 
government documents ten years ago. Both the private and public sectors 
have already taken steps to remove social security numbers from forms 
of public identification. However, fully aware of the risks posed to 
seniors, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has refused to 
act. Both sides of the aisle agree, this is simply unacceptable.
  Therefore, it is clearly time for Congress to take action. I urge my 
colleagues to support this legislation so that we can better protect 
our senior citizens.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sam Johnson) that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, H.R. 1509, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground that a 
quorum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum is not 
present.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.
  The point of no quorum is considered withdrawn.

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