Grassley: CMS ignored repeated Medicare fraud warnings

Senator Chuck Grassley is a bit upset with CMS, and he's managed to make sure the press knows it, too. His office has released data suggesting that CMS received at least 30 warnings from inspectors regarding documented or suspected Medicare fraud, but only followed up on half of them.

CMS has investigated more than 300 warnings since 2006, and generally responds to them quickly, according to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. However, the agency's record seems to be spottier of late.

For example, the AP notes, Grassley's research uncovered a July 2008 warning noting that organized crime was infiltrating the Medicare system, and that Medicare was losing upward of $1 million per day for every Medicare provider license such criminals managed to obtain. Apparently, CMS didn't respond to this warning.

Grassley now is asking CMS to guarantee that it will respond to future warnings from inspectors within two months. Sebelius has agreed to these rules, and is setting up a new process for tracking such communications.

To find out what Grassley was worried about:
- read this Associated Press piece

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