Curbelo: Medicare Schemes Are Costing Taxpayers Billions, We Need to Do Better

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Washington, D.C., July 19, 2017 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | comments
 Today, Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) urged Administration officials to do more to combat the waste, fraud and abuse plaguing the Medicare program.

Curbelo read an excerpt from the Miami Herald highlighting the severity of the problem in South Florida. He later asked the witnesses if there was anything more that could be done on the front-end to prevent fraudulent providers from being approved during the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services application process (3:30).

Following his appointment to the House Committee on Ways and Means, Curbelo highlighted reducing entitlement fraud as a priority for him on the Committee. He also made combating benefits abuse and fraud committed by Cuban nationals a priority with his Cuban Immigrant Work Opportunity Act.

A partial transcript of Curbelo’s remarks is below. A video of the full exchange is available here.

Curbelo: Medicare Schemes Are Costing Taxpayers Billions, We Need to Do Better
Committee on Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee
Washington, D.C.
July 19, 2017

Representative Carlos Curbelo: “Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for this hearing and I thank the Ranking Member as well. This issue is of critical importance to my community in South Florida. Most people know that South Florida is one of the most beautiful parts of this country with a lot of hard-working, entrepreneurial people, but we have another distinction which isn’t as attractive or as desirable.

“I will just read the first line from a Miami Herald article published recently, ‘With federal agents leading Medicare fraud busts nationwide, and in the nation’s Medicare fraud capital of Miami last week, a drug-dealing Miami doctor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud – 4.8 million dollars.’

Now people in my community are sick and tired of having this reputation, and people in my community ask me, ‘How come Visa, American Express, MasterCard can prevent fraud, yet we are always reading about the Medicare fraud that is being chased in the newspaper?’ And I want to know today, from both of our witnesses, if there is any more authority that Congress can give CMS to remedy this situation? By the way, Mr. Chairman, I would like to submit for the record this Miami Herald article and the corresponding DOJ press release.

“And we are very pleased, very pleased, that there was this massive Medicare fraud bust all over the country recently, but that is an indication of a far greater problem. And this is what we are catching. We can only imagine what we’re not catching. So I want to know, Mr. Morse, is there anything else that this institution can do to empower you to focus more on prevention so that we can – hopefully – stop reading all these articles about chasing fraud and putting people in jail?”

Curbelo: “Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you again. Whatever it takes, I think this Committee, this Congress needs to empower these agencies to remedy this situation. For taxpayers and for Medicare beneficiaries it’s very demoralizing to read – on a weekly basis in Miami – these articles about people running these schemes that have cost the taxpayers billions and billions of dollars and – by the way – threatened the solvency of Medicare, Social Security and many of our entitlement programs. I thank our witnesses. We need to do much better.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity.”

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