Nearly half of Medicare overpayments may be fraud, say lawmakers

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An estimated 50% of the $10.8 billion in Medicare overpayments in 2006 were the result of fraud, according to lawmakers investigating waste in the program.

Additional enforcement funding might help, according to lawmakers and administration officials who testified during a joint meeting of the House Ways and Means Oversight and Health subcommittees on Thursday.

The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General recouped $13 for every $1 it spent on enforcement and oversight initiatives between 2003 and 2006, said Daniel R. Levinson, HHS Inspector General. In one year, the agency's return was as high as $18 for every $1 invested, he said.

Additional funding could be used to compensate additional lawyers needed to work fraud and abuse cases, said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida R. Alexander Acosta.

But the OIG has received adequate funding boosts recently, including an annual increase in funding for the next four years through the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, Levinson said.

More on the hearing can be found at