HCFA falls short in contractor oversight, auditors say

The Health Care Financing Administration must do a better job overseeing the private contractors it hires to process Medicare payments, according to General Accounting Office and inspector general reports presented Wednesday to the House Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

HHS Deputy Inspector General George Grob said private contractors have fallen short in financial management, in reporting fraud and, most egregiously, in "misusing government funds and actively trying to conceal their actions, altering documents and falsifying statements that specific work was performed."

Grob reported that investigations of contractors have resulted in nine civil settlements and two criminal convictions, while 21 cases are pending.

Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., lamented that, despite congressional oversight, "It just seems we haven't done a very good job. We've identified cases, and it persists and it persists and it persists."

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, expressed his frustration, telling HCFA witnesses, "I expect you to take these reports seriously and not shuffle papers."

However, Democrats were quick to note that Republicans had pushed for privatization in a search for efficiency. Rep. Bart Stupak, D- Mich., questioned whether privatizing Medicare processing was any better than what government could do. "At what point do you stop contracting out and say that maybe government isn't as inefficient?" Stupak asked.

Presenting separate reports on HCFA oversight shortcomings and contractor abuses, GAO Chicago Field Office Manager Leslie Aronovitz highlighted detailed recommendations that HCFA should implement to strengthen its control of contractors. "We think HCFA needs to do a lot more things and be a lot more aggressive in overseeing their contractors," Aronovitz said.

HCFA Program Integrity Group Director Penny Thompson noted an audit that showed the agency had cut its payment error rate in half, to about $12.6 billion in fiscal 1998. "We are making substantial progress in fighting fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare program and ensuring that we pay right," she said.

Thompson emphasized HCFA must do better and said the agency was making changes, including new contractor evaluations, stronger fraud reporting, better training and use of technology.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.