New bill would require more secure Medicare cards

Congressman Brendan Boyle joined a bipartisan coalition on July 28 to introduce the Medicare Common Access Card Act (H.R. 3220), a bill that would require the Department of Health and Human Services to initiate a smart card pilot program and issue new, more secure Medicare cards to select participants.

These new cards would better protect personal information by moving it from the front of the card to a secure, encrypted microchip inserted into the card. The chip would keep personal information more secure from fraud, hacking and identity threats, while ensuring Medicare beneficiaries that their billing is accurate when they visit their doctors.

“This legislation represents an important modernization and security improvement for Medicare recipients and the doctors who treat them,” Boyle stated in a July 28 news release. “It will help cut down on the billions of dollars a year lost to waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare while protecting seniors from security threats and updating our outdated billing system.”

According to the nonpartisan Office of Management and Budget, an estimated $60 billion each year is lost to waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. Using a smart card would update and correct the “pay and chase” system in which the government pays Medicare reimbursements without first verifying the validity of the charges. In cases when charges prove fraudulent, the government must then attempt to recoup the illegitimate reimbursements. ••