Senate Republicans have begun “a crusade” against Medicare fraud. They estimate that fraud accounts for 20%, or about $60 billion, of the annual Medicare budget.
I’m always a little wary of the notion that solving fraud problems will have a real impact on the budget. Not that I don’t believe it is a problem, but I really don’t trust the government’s ability to root out the fraud on a level that will make a significant fiscal impact. The basis for my opinion is history, notwithstanding the bold use of the word “crusade.”
My hopes for eliminating some Medicare fraud are much less ambitious. It is clear right now that Medicare is not where it should be on reimbursement rates. Increasingly, Maryland doctors are refusing to take Medicare. In fact, it seems that Maryland doctors are taking their gun sites off Maryland medical malpractice lawyers and are focusing more on health insurers and Medicare. If we could eliminate some of the fraud, maybe we could lift reimbursement rates enough to satisfy Maryland doctors who are working at arguably discount rates.