TrendGingrich says biometric ID part of a solution to the Medicare problem

Published 12 February 2009

States ask Congress for $100 billion to help them cope with Medicare costs; Gingrich says that each state must include at least four elements in its plan to address the Medicare crisis before it will be entitled to federal funds; one of these elements are biometric IDs for Medicare recipients

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, writes that for the third time this decade, states are looking to Congress for help with their Medicaid costs. “At least the Big Three auto manufacturers only come around once a generation,” he adds. States got a straight up $20 billion bailout for their Medicaid programs in 2003. Later that same year, Medicare Part D was signed into law and went into effect in 2004. Ever since, states have offloaded tens of billions of dollars in prescription drug costs to the federal government for their Medicare/Medicaid dual eligible populations. Now in 2009 the states are back at the federal trough. This time a bailout of up to $100 billion is being seriously discussed.

States should have to apply individually for their loan with a detailed plan for serious, long-term reform that includes the following,” Gingrich writes, offering four elements that each state’s plan must include:

  • First, states must post online for public access all Medicaid claims and patient encounter data. It imperative this information is individually de-identified. All facilities that accept Medicaid dollars must be listed by name and include the amount they received and the number of patients they treated. Gov. Mark Sanford in South Carolina was the first leader to create a version of this transparency. Medicaid spending is among the most opaque in all of government. It desperately needs sunlight. This is a taxpayer right-to-know issue.
  • Second, insist on enhanced use of (and 100 percent by a date certain) of electronic remittances/electronic fund transfers for accuracy to and from providers. This would save on paper printing costs and postage while increasing accuracy and timeliness of payments for honest providers.
  • Third, make a bailout conditional on states implementing aggressive predictive modeling prior to payments being sent to providers. These technologies have been used by credit-card companies for years. They catch outlier billing practices before money is sent and would move Medicaid away from its traditional, slow-footed “pay and chase” model that is a magnet for criminals.
  • Fourth, require biometric identification for Medicaid patients to access services in lieu of paper or plastic cards which are easily lost, stolen and forged. This would make it considerably more difficult for fraudsters to appear at multiple pharmacies and emergency rooms to run up huge bills.