A report released Thursday by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services reveals the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – the same agency responsible for setting the Obamacare rollout in motion – paid more than $20 million in false benefits to dead people in 2011.
According to the report, CMS paid $23 million to providers, suppliers, Medicare Advantage organizations and prescription drug plan sponsors for dead patients, as well as $29 million in drug payouts for illegal aliens.
Altogether, the payments represent a fraction of the total amount of Medicare payouts in any given year. But the misspent money still elicited recommendations from the Inspector General’s office on how CMS must tighten the vetting process.
“The OIG offered a handful of recommendations,” The Hill reported Thursday, “such as taking action against providers and suppliers that had high numbers of claims with service dates after a beneficiary’s death, as a way to minimize further inappropriate payments.”
CMS administrator Mailynn Tavenner said the Medicaid agency accepts the findings, but she didn’t elaborate much.
“We agree that in cases where the information indicates an individual is not lawfully present in the United States, that individual should not be permitted to enroll or to remain enrolled in a Part D plan during the period where he or she is not eligible to receive federal benefits,” Tavenner said.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) criticized CMS for the finding, noting that the agency had been cautioned of the potential for such egregious abuses five years before they were uncovered.