Indeed, Weiner & Co. may want to check out the numbers in an explosive new federal report.Every year we're talking tens of billions of dollars in fraudulent payments. That's real money that has gone down the rabbit hole.
According to the survey, Washington paid more than $47 billion in questionable or fraudulent Medicare claims in FY 2009 -- fully 12.4 percent of the $440 billion program's annual budget.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report says Medicare fraud for the first nine months of 2009 increased at a rate nearly triple the previous year.
Not that fraud is necessarily on the rise: New methodology uncovered previously undisclosed improper payments -- meaning that Medicare fraud likely has been rampant for years.
Moreover, according to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), federal watchdogs received 30 fraud warnings over the previous years from inspectors, including of organized crime scams and physician kickbacks -- and simply ignored them.
And one has to wonder how much more fraud is out there for prior years based on the improved fraud detection techniques.
If the amount of fraud is reduced, the costs of the program are reduced; lowering the cost of health care and insuring that payments go to responsible parties. Moreover, the federal government has repeatedly failed to overhaul the system to root out the fraudulent payments.