BILL WOULD STRENGTHEN PUNISHMENT OF INSURERS WHO DEFRAUD MEDICARE
By Steven Tavares
Rep. Pete Stark took one last shot at Republicans and health insurance companies before Congress wrapped up business for the year. Stark had unkind words for a group of anonymous Republican Senators who placed a hold on voting for his Medicare anti-fraud bill until next year.
"Fraudsters and crooks who bilk millions out of Medicare just received a Christmas present courtesy of anonymous Republican Senators," said Stark. The bill (H.R. 6130) would have added teeth to existing laws punishing insurance companies and their executives from defrauding Medicare. Health insurance companies can bypass exclusion from participating in Medicare after a conviction, says Stark, if their top executive leaves the business beforehand. "These executives are able to move from one company to another and continue to defraud Medicare, seniors, and taxpayers," said Stark.
The bill would also put an end to convicted insurance executives from creating obscure shell companies to absorb any liability for the parent company, said Stark.
The parliamentary procedure known as legislative holds can be placed by any senator with full anonymity. The procedure has become a useful tool for Republicans in the minority to fluster and bog down the Democrat's agenda in Congress. H.R. 6130 was co-sponsored by Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA), who will replace Stark as the chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. The bill passed in the House by a simple voice vote and will await introduction, hopefully, sometime next year.
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