April 13, 2010, Miami, FL - At the Little Havana Senior Activity Center this morning, Congressman Ron Klein (D-FL) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) announced a tough new bipartisan bill to crack down on Medicare fraud and protect seniors and taxpayers.
The bipartisan legislation, the Medicare Fraud Enforcement and Prevention Act, will update criminal penalties and utilize the latest technology to fight Medicare fraud. The bill takes tough action to stop crime before it starts as well as crack down on criminals after the fact. Medicare fraud costs seniors and American taxpayers about $60 billion dollars a year and is particularly rampant in South Florida, as unfortunately, our community alone makes up nearly 20% of all Medicare fraud nationwide.
"The best way to save seniors and taxpayers money while keeping Medicare strong is to get tough on criminals and stop crimes before they start - and that is why our bill does both," Klein said. "This innovative, bipartisan solution will help ensure that crooks can no longer open fake businesses or submit false paperwork to steal tens of billions of dollars a year from senior citizens and taxpayers. We are taking common sense action to stop crime in South Florida, and that is something we can all agree on, whether we are Democrats, Republicans or Independents"
The Medicare Fraud Enforcement and Prevention Act will double criminal penalties for false claims and violations of the anti-kickback statute from 5 years to 10 years in prison and increase the fines to $50,000. It will also create a new offense for illegally distributing a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary ID or billing privileges and establishes a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison and a fine.
In addition to cracking down on criminals, the legislation establishes innovative safeguards to stop crime before it starts, such as instituting comprehensive background checks on business owners who want to bill Medicare and random site visits by law enforcement. It also establishes a pilot program to utilize the latest technology to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries really receive the treatments and services that are being billed, and that patients who visit the doctor's office are who they say they are. By making sure that law enforcement has the real-time access to data that they need to combat Medicare fraud, this bipartisan solution will save seniors and taxpayers money.
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