Biometric Smart Cards in Medicaid: Barrier to Coverage and Ineffective at Reducing Fraud

Executive Summary

This fact sheet discusses the use of “biometrics” for identity verification purposes in Medicaid.  Biometric technology compares an individual’s physical features (e.g., fingerprint, palm, iris) to information saved in a central database in order to verify that individual’s identity.

This fact sheet discusses the use of ?biometrics? for identity verification purposes in Medicaid.  Biometric technology compares an individual?s physical features (e.g., fingerprint, palm, iris) to information saved in a central database in order to verify that individual?s identity.  In 2011 there were several proposals in state legislatures involving the implementation of biometric smart cards to verify the identity of Medicaid beneficiaries.  Proponents for the use of biometrics in Medicaid say this technology addresses both beneficiary fraud (by preventing card-sharing), and provider fraud (by reducing phantom-billing and other forms of fraud).  Yet, past experience has shown that verification programs in government benefits do not effectively reduce fraud or save state resources, but rather serve as a barrier to enrollment into these programs.  This fact sheet will: 1) discuss legislative activity in the states with respect to biometric legislation, 2) show how current biometric proposals create barriers to enrollment and care, 3) highlight how these proposals are a costly and misguided effort to address fraud, 4) explain CMS? position on finger-imaging and other similar procedures, 5) analyze the legality of smart card legislation, and 6) provide practical steps and recommendations for advocates to oppose similar legislation in their states.

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