Obama pledges crackdown on healthcare fraud

President Barack Obama announced Tuesday new measures to snuff out fraud and waste in government programs. Payments to the wrong person, of the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason cost Americans an estimated $98 billion in 2009, with $54 billion coming from Medicare and Medicaid.

The program would rely on "bounty hunters"--private auditors who would receive a portion of recovered funds--to electronically analyze Medicare and Medicaid billing data for signs of schemes and mistakes. A similar a pilot program run by Medicare in California, New York and Texas recouped $900 million for taxpayers from 2005 to 2008, according to the White House.

While a memorandum signed by the President on Wednesday urges Cabinet secretaries and government heads to increase their use of auditors within the current boundaries, Obama has announced his support for bipartisan bills pending in the House and the Senate that would give government agencies broader authority to pay for audits with money that was recaptured from previous audits.

For more information:
- read this Associated Press story
- check out this MedPage Today article