Almost 10% of Medicare Payments Improper
But it's hard to tell how much of that is fraud
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2011 9:11 AM CST
Galina Vouk, one of 73 people accused in a massive $163 million Medicare scam, is led in handcuffs from FBI headquarters in New York, in this Oct. 13, 2010 photo.   (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)

(Newser) – The federal government lost around $48 billion to fraudulent and improper Medicare claims last year—which made up nearly 10% of all payments the program doled out, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. And even that figure might be on the low side, because it doesn’t include any data from Medicare Part D, the program’s prescription drug benefit, Politico reports.

The report, prepared for a House Energy and Commerce Oversight subcommittee hearing, concludes that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services "needs a plan with clear measures and benchmarks" for reducing fraud. The $48 billion estimate comes from the CMS itself, but officials told the committee that it’s hard to identify how much of that is fraud. Committee chairman Cliff Stearns was floored, calling that “incomprehensible.”