GAO Estimates $44 Billion in Improper Medicare Payments

By Eric Scheiner | February 19, 2013 | 4:18pm EST


U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro of the GAO (AP Photo)

( - The Government Accountability Office (GAO) ranked Medicare on it’s list of high financial risks facing government agencies, making an estimate of $44 billion in improper payments made by the program in 2012.

$44 billion is roughly the same amount of cuts the sequester package is set to cut out of federal spending in 2013.

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The risk list is updated for each session of Congress with a goal of targeting waste, fraud and abuse. The recently released GAO report claims in 2012 that Medicare “covered more than 49 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries at an estimated cost of $555 billion, and reported improper payments estimated to be more than $44 billion.”

The GAO has designated Medicare a high-risk area since 1990.

In a House Oversight Committee hearing last week, U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro of the GAO was asked why the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) haven’t implemented recently recommended changes to improve the integrity of Medicare.

“The process over there, in my opinion, takes longer than it needs to implement these changes,” Dodaro responded.

Sequestration, the imposition of automatic spending cuts in the federal budget, was placed in the Budget Control Act of 2011 to push Congress to reduce the annual deficit by $1.2 billion by the end of 2012.

Unless congress comes to an agreement to avoid these cuts, they will take place March 1.

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