The Hill: GAO: Health programs distributed billions in improper payments

Medicare and Medicaid accounted for the majority of the estimated $105 billion in improper payments distributed by the government last year, federal investigators said Wednesday in a report. 

Traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid paid out a total of $62.2 billion in improper payments in 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) told Congress in prepared testimony


An improper payment is defined by law as a payment that should not have been made or was made in an incorrect amount. 

Error rates at the Department of Health and Human Services ranged from 10 percent in Medicare fee-for-service to 5.8 percent in Medicaid. The vast majority of errors were overpayments. 

An official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said most of the agency’s improper payments were the result of money dispersed without the right documentation. 

The problem was the subject of an Oversight subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, where Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) slammed the errors as destructive to the federal budget. 

“In sheer dollars alone, one of the areas that concerns me and every American is healthcare and the staggering cost of healthcare,” said Mica, chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, which held the hearing.

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