Monday, October 26, 2009

"60 Minutes" Last Night: Huge Medicare Fraud

Last night's episode of "60 Minutes" examined the phenomenon of increasingly rampant Medicare fraud, currently estimated to cost American taxpayers $60 billion a year. It's embedded below. There were several aspects of this show that I found fascinating, including the revelation that defrauding Medicare is apparently so easy that thousands of low-level street criminals have now become involved. Attorney General Eric Holder explains that, compared to drug dealing, the risks involved are so much lower and the money to be made potentially much bigger. You're not going to be shot at, he says, the chances of being caught and imprisoned are lower (because enforcement has been minimal), and even if you are caught the jail sentences for Medicare fraud are much lower than those for drug dealing. The core of the problem is apparently that Medicare is required by law to pay all claims within 15-30 days, leaving essentially no time for its tiny team of fraud investigators to audit or question any of them. Once the claims are paid, the scammers close up shop and move on quickly, starting again somewhere else.

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