The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would strengthen Medicare anti-fraud provisions and hold corrupt executives responsible for their actions. The bill must pass the Senate before it can be signed into law by President Obama.
The bill gives Medicare officials greater power to bar companies or individuals from participating in the program if wrongdoing is proven in a court of law. Health care executives whose companies are shown to have taken part in defrauding Medicare would be banned from Medicare participation thereafter. However, the new provisions would not apply in cases in which a company agrees to pay fines in lieu of prosecution.
“Now is the time to crack down on criminals who steal from Medicare,” says Democrat Ron Klein, one of the architects of the bill. “Our seniors depend on Medicare services, and I won’t stand to see those services eroded by thieves who cheat the system.”
The bill closes two loopholes in the current system. At present, executives in charge of companies that commit fraud can jump to another company without repercussions. Federal officials do not have the power to exclude them from doing business with federal health programs as long as they have left the company by the time the guilty plea is entered or the conviction is secured. The bill would allow but not require federal officials to ban such executives.