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FAST Act would slow down fraudsters

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A new bill has been introduced by a bipartisan group in the Senate, which is aimed at reducing the tens of billions of dollars lost to health care fraud and waste each year.

The Medicare and Medicaid Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayer Dollars Act (or FAST Act) would create tougher penalties for Medicare fraud, develop new strategies to prevent fraud and waste, improve data sharing among agencies and programs and help states avoid Medicaid overpayments.

“There is no single solution that will solve our nation’s current fiscal dilemma, but there are numerous steps we can take to rein in wasteful spending and begin to restore fiscal order. The FAST Act is one of those steps,” said Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware and one of the sponsors of the bill. “The FAST Act puts important tools in place to help us reduce waste and fraud in these two vital programs that millions of American depend on while achieving our deficit reduction goals.”

Proponents of the bill say it takes steps to counteract some of the ways the programs are exploited by fraudsters. For example, it would make it more difficult to impersonate a doctor by better protecting Medicare provider billing information.

Beneficiaries of the programs who “pharmacy shop” to feed an addiction to prescription drugs or make a profit would face new drug monitoring programs to flag the practice of filling multiple prescriptions. The current “pay and chase” approach to claims means that criminals often escape before fraud is detected.

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The bill proposes auditing reimbursement requests before payment is made. Organized crime rings have gotten into the game of procuring and selling Medicare beneficiary and provider identification numbers. Stiffer penalties would help to deter this practice.

For more on health care fraud see:

More money for Medicare patrols

Feds get tough on health care fraud

New rules make it harder to cheat Medicare