Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she hopes to include legislation to prevent Medicare fraud in the health reform bill being debated in Washington.
Klobuchar is co-sponsoring a bill, called the IMPROVE Act (Improving Medicare and Medicaid Policy for Reimbursements through Oversight and Efficiency), that would require Medicare providers to be paid through direct deposit. Klobuchar says that would help stop sham clinics and doctors from billing Medicare for fake care.
"As a prosecutor, I see this as a matter of justice and right and wrong and black and white," she said. "You don't want people getting ripped off. I also see this as falling into the overall scheme of health care reform efforts.
"We want to make sure that you have a system that's efficient and high quality, and when you have $60 billion going out of that system to places that it shouldn't go, you have a problem."
Klobuchar says eight people were indicted in Florida last month for billing as much as $100 million to Medicare, then funneling payments through check cashing storefronts.
"There is too much fraud going on and in a time when we have such limited resources, we want to use those resources for people that need health care," Klobuchar said. "Seniors [and] people that are going into the hospital that don't have health care. We want to make sure we are using taxpayers dollars wisely."
Lawmakers say electronic payments would require providers to have bank accounts. That would mean account holders would have to provide identification, which would allow the government to better track Medicare payments.
Rep. Mike Arcuri, D-NY, and Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-PA, are also sponsoring the bill.