Senators Demand Answers To Medicaid Waste, Threaten Subpoenas

Thomas Phippen | Reporter

Two senators threatened to subpoena a Medicare and Medicaid official in a letter Tuesday over the administrator’s refusal to testify on the massive overpayment issue facing the government insurance program.

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri wrote in a letter that they want Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in June.

Verma has declined multiple requests from the committee, the senators wrote. “The Committee has sought your testimony on this subject matter since April 20; however, you have declined repeatedly to confirm that you will testify,” the letter obtained by Politico said.

“The Committee even postponed this hearing from May to accommodate your schedule. Even still, you have declined to confirm your availability and have offered a subordinate CMS official in your place.”

If the administrator does not comply with the request to testify, the senators wrote that they would “seek alternative means to compel [Verma’s] testimony.”

Medicaid alone accounts for a quarter of all improper payments — which can be payments to the wrong party, in the wrong amount or for the wrong reason — from the federal government. Overpayments particularly concern government watchdogs, as it represents waste of taxpayer money. (RELATED: Florida Paid $26.2 Million In Medicaid Benefits To Dead People)

Of the $596 billion state-federal Medicare and Medicaid programs spent in fiscal year 2017, an estimated $37 billion went to improper payments, a sharp increase from $29.1 billion in 2015, according to the Government Accountability Office.

“It is critical to take appropriate measures to reduce improper payments, as dollars wasted detract from our ability to ensure that the individuals who rely on the Medicaid program—including children, and individuals who are elderly or disabled—are provided adequate care,” GAO health care director Carolyn L. Yocom told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on April 12.

Yocom also stated that Medicaid had taken steps to address the main issues leading to overpayments, such as identifying fraud risks, making sure only eligible recipients are enrolled in the program, and ensuring only qualified health care providers are reimbursed for providing care.

But CMS has challenges that limit its ability to collect enough data to make faster decisions on payments and could use strengthened federal oversight to address program risks, Yocom said.

CMS did not immediately return The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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Tags : centers for medicare and medicaid services claire mccaskill house committee on homeland security and government affairs ron johnson seema verma
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