Improper Medicare payments totaled $13.3 billion in 2002, HHS official

Sunday, July 13, 2003

July 14, 2003

WASHINGTON - Medicare in 2002 made $13.3 billion in improper payments, representing 6.3% of the $212.7 billion in total payments, HHS Principal Deputy Inspector General Dara Corrigan.

Corrigan made his comment last week during a House Budget Committee hearing on the elimination of waste and fraud in mandatory federal programs, the Associated Press reported.

Although the lower than in past years, "the problems that remain are serious, complicated and have profound consequences," Corrigan said. Medicare expenditures in 2000 for the 24 most-prescribed drugs were $887 million higher than wholesale prices available to physicians and $1.9 billion higher than prices through the Federal Supply Schedule used by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to Corrigan.

Efforts to contain costs in Medicare are of "acute interest" to lawmakers as they work to finalize Medicare bills (HR 1 and S 1) in a conference committee, CongressDaily/AM reports. House Budget Committee Chair Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) criticized the lack of any "built-in process of review" for spending for mandatory government programs. Officials at 19 federal agencies, including the inspectors general of the departments of Agriculture, Education and Transportation, reported waste and fraud in their programs at the hearing.