CMS made $23M in Medicare payments to deceased members

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has taken steps to prevent and recover Medicare payments made to deceased members, but it still needs to boost safeguards, a new report from the Office of Inspector General found.

In 2011, CMS paid $23 million to more than 17,000 Medicare members who had already passed away, 86 percent of which ($20 million) originated from Medicare Part C, according to the report.

Of the roughly 17,000 deceased Medicare members, 58 percent (10,025) had less than $1,000 in payments. But 12 deceased members had more than $50,000 each in improper payments.

The OIG identified 11 percent of these incorrect payments as stemming from missing or incorrect dates of death, but it couldn't determine what drove the remaining improper payments, OIG analyst Rachel Bessette said in an accompanying podcast.

It's important for CMS to prevent making payments for deceased members because it could lead to fraudulent activity among providers or suppliers.

As a result of the findings, Bessette said OIG recommends CMS:

  • Improve safeguards to prevent future improper Medicare payments after member deaths;
  • Correct inaccurate dates of death in the systems and take action on the improper payments identified;
  • Monitor Part B claims with dates of service after the beneficiary's' death; and
  • Take appropriate action to address providers and suppliers with high numbers of Part B claims with service dates after beneficiaries' deaths.

To learn more:
- here's the OIG report (.pdf) and podcast