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Highlights

Under the Medicare program, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its contractors paid a reported $330 billion in Medicare benefits in calendar year 2005. Because GAO previously identified government contractors with billions of dollars in unpaid federal taxes, Congress requested that we expand our work in this area to all Medicare providers. This testimony addresses Medicare physicians, health professionals, and suppliers for services related to senior health care, who received about 20 percent of all Medicare payments. Because of limitations in HHS data, GAO was asked to determine if Medicare Part B physicians, health professionals, and suppliers have unpaid federal taxes, and if so, to (1) determine the magnitude of such debts; (2) identify examples of Medicare physicians and suppliers that have engaged in abusive, or potentially criminal activities; and (3) assess HHS efforts to prevent delinquent taxpayers from enrolling in Medicare and levy payments to pay delinquent federal taxes. To perform this work, GAO reviewed data from HHS and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In addition, GAO reviewed policies, procedures, and regulations related to Medicare. GAO also performed additional investigative activities. We plan to report on the results of our work related to other Medicare providers including any needed recommendations later this year.

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