Testimony Before The Committee On Energy And Commerce : Examining Options To Combat Health Care Waste, Fraud, And Abuse

Executive Summary

Testimony before the committee on energy and commerce subcommittee on health for the hearing entitled “Examining Options To Combat Health Care Waste, Fraud, And Abuse”


The National Health Law Program (?NHeLP?) submits this testimony to the Energy and Commerce Committee?s Subcommittee on Health. NHeLP protects and advances the health rights of low-income and underserved individuals. The oldest non-profit of its kind, NHeLP advocates, educates and litigates at the federal and state levels. NHeLP?s testimony addresses 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 to verify that individual?s identity. In 2011, several state legislative proposals involved the implementation of biometric smart cards to verify the identity of Medicaid beneficiaries. Proponents for the use of biometrics in Medicaid believe this technology addresses both beneficiary fraud (by preventing card-sharing with non-enrollees), and provider fraud (by reducing phantom-billing and other forms of fraud). Yet, past experience has shown that verification programs for government benefits do not effectively reduce fraud or save money, but rather serve as a barrier to enrollment. NHeLP?s testimony will:
  1. demonstrate how biometric proposals create barriers to enrollment and care,
  2. highlight how these proposals are a costly and misguided effort to address fraud,
  3. explain the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services? (CMS?) position on finger- imaging and other similar procedures, and
  4. analyze the legality of biometric smart card proposals.
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