GAO has designated Medicare as a high-risk program because of its size, complexity, and susceptibility to improper payments. In 2010, Medicare covered 47 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries and had estimated outlays of $516 billion. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is the agency in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for administering the Medicare program and leading efforts to reduce Medicare improper payments. This testimony focuses on estimated improper payments in the Medicare program for fiscal year 2010 and the status of CMS's efforts to implement key strategies to help reduce improper payments. This testimony is primarily based on previous GAO reporting related to governmentwide improper payments, Medicare high-risk challenges and program integrity efforts, and CMS's information technology systems intended to identify improper payments. GAO supplemented that prior work with additional information on the nature and extent of Medicare improper payments reported by HHS in its fiscal year 2010 agency financial report. GAO also received updated information from CMS in February 2011 and, in select cases, as of July 2011, on its actions related to relevant laws, regulations, guidance, and open recommendations pertaining to key remediation strategies.
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