KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

President Announces Plans To Crack Down On Health Care Fraud

The Boston Globe: "President Barack Obama said Tuesday he'll bring in high-tech bounty hunters to help root out health care fraud, grabbing a populist idea with bipartisan backing in his final push to overhaul the system. ... Obama's anti-fraud announcement was aimed directly at the political middle."

"Waste and fraud are pervasive problems for Medicare and Medicaid. ... Improper payments -- in the wrong amounts, to the wrong person or for the wrong reason -- totaled an estimated $54 billion in 2009. ... The bounty hunters in this case would be private auditors armed with sophisticated computer programs to scan Medicare and Medicaid billing data for patterns of bogus claims. The auditors would get to keep part of any funds they recover for the government" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/9).

Reuters: Regarding the White House's efforts, "[t]he action endorses Republican-backed proposals on cheats, in a gesture designed to highlight Obama's commitment to embrace opposition ideas alongside his own Democratic Party. The plan will offer private auditors a share of the money that they recoup in order to encourage them to dig deeper to uncover improper payments under Medicare and Medicaid" (Bull, 3/9).

The Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Obama will sign a presidential memorandum directing federal agencies to make more aggressive use of 'payment recapture audits,' in which private companies under contract scrub government books to find wrongful payments and are paid a portion of what they find. Under current law, only certain federal agencies are eligible to use this system. The president is also endorsing legislation to expand their use to other agencies and programs, including Medicaid" (Meckler and Hitt, 3/9).

The Washington Post: "Together, the announcements are intended to show the president's seriousness on two fronts: the willingness to incorporate Republican ideas into his overall plans for health reform, and his desire to confront fraud and waste in government. The announcement comes as part of an intensifying White House public relations campaign ahead of a legislative conclusion on the health care front, perhaps as early as next week" (Shear, 3/9).

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