Nation's Leading Seniors, Veterans, Advocacy Groups Ask Congress to Fight Fraud First

Oct 18, 2011, 11:22 ET from Fight Fraud First!

– Groups representing millions of seniors, Americans with disabilities, minorities and veterans to encourage Joint Select Committee to avoid harmful cuts, by eliminating fraud, abuse and waste –

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National organizations representing millions of older Americans, patients, veterans and Medicare beneficiaries today announced a new initiative – Fight Fraud First! – to collectively call on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to focus on eliminating fraud within the Medicare and Medicaid programs that wastes taxpayer dollars instead of considering harmful cuts.

Organizations participating in Fight Fraud First! include AARP, Easter Seals, American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, National Association for Uniformed Services, Veterans Health Council, HealthHIV, RetireSafe, National Family Caregivers Association, Men's Health Network, The National Grange, National Minority Quality Forum, Women Against Prostate Cancer, National Hispanic Council on Aging, Vietnam Veterans of America, National Association for Home Care & Hospice and Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.

With just over a month remaining until the Committee is expected to provide recommendations to Congress on how to eliminate at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending, the groups are working to draw attention to eliminating fraud and abuse, which would help avoid across-the-board cuts to the Medicare program, and other policies that will place added financial burdens on today's seniors and future retirees.

"We hope that Members of Congress, particularly the Super Committee, will take very seriously the ideas and reforms that we are proposing," said Fmr. Senator John Breaux. "American taxpayers do not want to see any dollars cut from essential programs while money is being systematically lost to fraudulent providers and improper payments. It's time for common-sense solutions to an embarrassing national problem."

Estimates from the U.S. Government Accountability Office indicate that as much as 10 percent of Medicare and Medicaid dollars are lost to fraud and abuse each year – amounting to tens of billions of dollars. Although the federal government has recently stepped up its efforts to prosecute offenders and recover funds, only a fraction of money lost is expected to be recouped.  

"Instead of asking older Americans to pay more for the Medicare benefits they've earned and depend on, Congress should advance solutions to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse," said Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President of AARP. "Whether they're Republicans, Democrats or Independents, our members want the supercommittee to cut waste and fraud, not Medicare benefits or long-term care."

LtGen. Jack Klimp, President and CEO for the National Association for Uniformed Services added, "For years America's military services have worked to maintain the highest level of integrity and provide our uniformed Americans with quality healthcare options. Now, we are in the fight of our lives to provide significant savings within Medicare in order to preserve access to healthcare while avoiding further cuts to defense spending. Targeting the dollars lost to fraud and abuse provides the savings our economy demands while preserving the strength and health of America's uniformed services."

Twenty-three groups in total, including the members of the coalition, issued a joint letter to Members of Congress on September 28 asking for improved program integrity enforcement and targeted efforts to eliminate fraud and abuse. Specifically, the groups hope Congress will seriously consider initiatives that would prevent fraudulent payments before they are made, which would yield significant savings for Medicare.

In the joint letter issued to Congress, the groups write:  "…we believe a top priority should be stopping the flow of dollars that now goes to criminals engaged in fraudulent and abusive practices — not increasing innocent beneficiaries' out-of-pocket costs or cutting the funds that go to meeting Medicare and Medicaid patient needs. Our organizations stand ready to work with you on solutions that can be implemented now to achieve billions of dollars in savings without negatively impacting beneficiaries, their families, their providers, or their benefits. Let us not miss this opportunity to achieve substantial savings, strengthen America's Medicare and Medicaid programs, and ensure that the needs of America's most vulnerable citizens are met. By fighting fraud first, we can make a meaningful difference."

A copy of the letter and complete list of organizations is available at

Fight Fraud First! is a collaborative effort on behalf of seniors, persons with disabilities, military veterans, and family members to advocate for the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid. We believe that the smartest and easiest place to start is taking on bad actors within these programs. Together we are working to help the Select Committee find significant savings within Medicare and Medicaid without harming the seniors and Americans with disabilities who rely on these valuable programs.

SOURCE Fight Fraud First!