NOVEMBER 12, 2013
As if it weren’t bad enough that American taxpayers annually dole out huge sums to educate, incarcerate and medically treat illegal immigrants, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) spent tens of millions of dollars to give them free prescription drugs.
In all, CMS, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), blew $29 million to cover Medicare Part D prescription drugs for 4,139 “unlawfully present” individuals that did not qualify for the benefit, according to an HHS Inspector General report. This occurred during a two-year period between 2009 and 2011, according to the agency watchdog.
If you think that’s bad, earlier this year CMS paid $91.6 million to health care providers to cover 2,600 ineligible illegal aliens. A 1996 law specifically prohibits illegal immigrants from getting federal healthcare benefits such as Medicare and Medicaid yet it continues to occur, despite audits exposing the violations. How? Because CMS doesn’t have policies and procedures that could enable it to detect such “improper payments,” according to an HHS Inspector General report released in January.
That means Americans will likely continue paying exorbitant amounts to provide illegal aliens with services banned by federal law. The prescription scandal involves Medicare Part D, a voluntary program that requires qualified beneficiaries to enroll in the federally approved prescription drug plan by completing paperwork.
Supposedly CMS uses information from the Social Security Administration to verify eligibility, but the new audit reveals this: “CMS did not have a policy addressing payments for unlawfully present beneficiaries under Medicare Part D that was equivalent to the existing policy that covers payments for these beneficiaries under Parts A and B.” That means the agency doesn’t have “internal controls to identify and disenroll unlawfully present beneficiaries.”
In a nutshell, it appears that the Health Department’s watchdog is essentially saying that there’s nothing the feds can do about this. The lost money cannot be recovered and the inspector general simply suggests the obvious; to “develop and implement controls to ensure that Medicare does not pay for prescription drugs for unlawfully present beneficiaries.”
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