April 06,2010

Grassley fights Medicare fraud, questions HHS secretary about agency disregarding phantom pharmacy information


     WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services to account for the fact that the agency that runs Medicare failed to respond for over a year to credible information about fraudulent pharmacies bilking Medicare.

     The pharmacies in question included empty store fronts that successfully billed millions of dollars to private insurers, where they were identified, yet Medicare officials completely ignored the warnings, despite repeated warnings.

     “Every Medicare dollar that’s lost to fraud is a tax dollar wasted and a dollar that doesn’t go to serve Medicare beneficiaries, as intended,” Grassley said.

      Here is Grassley’s letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

      This information comes on top of Inspector General reports last year about the Department’s repeated failure to respond to formal reports about programmatic flaws that led to Medicare fraud, waste and abuse.

     Conservative estimates say that at least $60 billion in Medicare dollars are lost every year to fraud, waste and abuse.  Earlier this year, Grassley introduced a comprehensive bill, the Strengthening Program Integrity and Accountability in Health Care Act, to combat this loss in federal health programs including Medicare.  It includes better screening requirements to keep fraudulent providers out of Medicare, as well as a stop-gap to prevent the federal government from paying first and asking questions later about whether claims for payment are legitimate.