Wednesday, August 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Improper payments by federal government top $100B

By
From page A10 | July 10, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — Tax credits for families that don’t qualify. Medicare payments for treatments that might not be necessary. Unemployment benefits for people who are secretly working. Federal agencies reported making $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them.

Congressional investigators say the figure could be even higher.

“The amounts here are absolutely staggering,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. “It’s over $100 billion each of the last five years. That’s a staggering half a trillion dollars in improper payments.”

Mica chairs the House Oversight government operations subcommittee, which held a hearing on improper payments Wednesday.

Each year, federal agencies are required to estimate the amount of improper payments they issue. They include overpayments, underpayments, payments to the wrong recipient and payments that were made without proper documentation.

Some improper payments are the result of fraud, while others are unintentional, caused by clerical errors or mistakes in awarding benefits without proper verification.

In 2013, federal agencies made $97 billion in overpayments, according to agency estimates. Underpayments totaled $9 billion. That adds up to $106 billion in improper payments, or 3.5 percent of all the payments made by the federal government.

The Obama administration has reduced the amount of improper payments since they peaked at $121 billion in 2010. The administration has stepped up efforts to measure improper payments, identify the cause and develop plans to reduce them, said Beth Cobert, deputy director of the White House budget office.

Federal agencies recovered more than $22 billion in overpayments last year, she said.

“We have taken an aggressive approach to attacking waste, fraud and abuse within federal agencies, and we will continue to seek out new and innovative tools to help us in this fight,” Cobert told the subcommittee.

However, a new report by the Government Accountability Office questions the accuracy of agency estimates, suggesting that the real tally could be higher. The GAO is the investigative arm of Congress.

“The federal government is unable to determine the full extent to which improper payments occur and reasonably assure that appropriate actions are taken to reduce them,” Beryl H. Davis, director of financial management at the GAO, told the subcommittee.

Davis said some agencies don’t develop estimates for programs that could be susceptible to improper payments. She also said estimates by the Defense Department “may not be reliable.”

The Pentagon estimates that less than 1 percent of its payments are improper. However, the GAO found last year that the Pentagon’s estimates for 2011 “were neither reliable nor statistically valid because of long-standing and pervasive financial management weaknesses.”

“We have reason to believe that the numbers are sound but we certainly understand why the skepticism exists,” Mark E. Easton, the Defense Department’s deputy chief financial officer, told the subcommittee.

“I hope you won’t stand too strongly behind your numbers,” Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., replied.

The largest sources of improper payments are government health care programs, according to agency estimates. Medicare’s various health insurance programs for older Americans accounted for $50 billion in improper payments in the 2013 budget year, far exceeding any other program.

Most of the payments were deemed improper because they were issued without proper documentation, said Shantanu Agrawal, a deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In some cases, the paperwork didn’t verify that services were medically necessary.

“Payments deemed ‘improper’ under these circumstances tend to be the result of documentation and coding errors made by the provider as opposed to payments made for inappropriate claims,” Agrawal told the subcommittee.

Among other programs with large amounts of improper payments:

—The earned income tax credit, which provides payments to the working poor in the form of tax refunds. Last year, improper payments totaled $14.5 billion. That’s 24 percent of all payments under the program.

“It’s an unacceptable rate of improper payments, an unacceptable rate of dollars out the door, and we need to do whatever we can to make a dent in it,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the subcommittee.

The tax credit is one of the largest anti-poverty programs in the U.S., providing $60.3 billion in payments last year. Eligibility depends on income and family size, making it complicated to apply for the credit — and difficult to enforce — Koskinen said.

People get credits they don’t deserve by claiming children they don’t have or misreporting their income or filing status, Koskinen said.

The IRS prides itself on issuing most tax refunds most within three weeks, often before the agency gets wage and other financial information from employers and banks. To combat fraud, the IRS has asked Congress to make employers and banks submit this information more quickly. The IRS also wants more authority to correct errors on tax returns without doing a full audit.

— Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor. Last year, improper payments totaled $14.4 billion.

Medicaid, which is run jointly by the federal government and the states, has seen a steady decline in improper payments since 2010, when they peaked at $23 billion.

The program is expanding under President Barack Obama’s health law.

—Unemployment insurance, a joint federal-state program that provides temporary benefits to laid-off workers. Amount of improper payments last year: $6.2 billion, or 9 percent of all payments under the program.

The Labor Department said most overpayments went to people who continued to get benefits after returning to work, or who didn’t meet state requirements to look for work while they were unemployed. Others were ineligible for benefits because they voluntarily quit their jobs or were fired.

___

Online: http://www.paymentaccuracy.gov/about-improper-payments

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Vacaville school board candidates sound off during forum

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Memorial flight honors beloved Gordon Valley man

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Recology goes pink to trash cancer

By Glen Faison | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Supervisors take no action in closed session

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

Curtola park-and-ride bill goes to governor

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

 
Group announces driver’s license law presentation

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

City reaches milestone for train station project

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 15 Comments | Gallery

 
Caltrans advises Highway 12 delays likely

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 2 Comments

DUI checkpoint nets arrests in Vacaville

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

 
Library’s teen board to meet next week

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
South Solano Dems schedule candidates meet, greet

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

Sandy’s 101 Omlettes closes in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

 
Man convicted of failing to register as sex offender

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5, 11 Comments | Gallery

 
Geiger sworn in as Fairfield planning commissioner

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6

Faith in Action puts out call for volunteers

By Glen Faison | From Page: A6

 
 
Yippie job training program seeks applicants

By Glen Faison | From Page: A6

 
Love, a legend, come to theaters

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

Suisun City police log: Aug. 17, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 16, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Aug. 17, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Aug. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 16, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

.

US / World

How can authorities restore order in Ferguson?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Holder brings his civil rights push to Ferguson

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Strong DOJ response to Ferguson seeks truth, calm

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
As protests rage, Obama struggles to find his role

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Ferguson pledges outreach efforts after shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Prison company pays $8 million in back wages

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Some evacuees of Yosemite-area fire can go home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Officials say Lake Tahoe imperiled by wildfires

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Committee approves higher pension calculations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Veteran rock climber killed in fall in Yosemite

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Texas Gov. Perry booked on abuse of power charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
US officials: Video shows American’s beheading

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

NY took quick precautions after in-custody death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
AP Exclusive: US changing no-fly list rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Tens of thousands march on Pakistan’s parliament

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Serve and protect? Certainly not

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 21 Comments

 
Question of the week: Does school start too soon?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

 
Government trying to steal rights

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

No getting away from corruption in state government

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

 
Editorial cartoons for Aug. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History: Aug. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Aug. 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Our daughter says she hates her mother and refuses to talk to us

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
10 Things: 10 fresh ways to dress corn on the cob

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Think beyond the slice with refreshing watermelon

By J.M. Hirsch | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson set for DC Comics film

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Don Pardo, iconic TV announcer, dies at 96

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Wife to bury Kasem in Norway, cites heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

 
Rancho Solano women’s team vying for spot in nationals

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

49ers sign defensive lineman Dorsey to extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49ers’ Dawson eager to get back out kicking after misses

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Kluwe, Vikings reach settlement to avert lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Islanders announce sale of minority stake of club

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ohio State: Injured QB Miller done for the season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Past US Open champs Djokovic, Federer seeded 1-2 in U.S. Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Joe Gibbs Racing hires Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Philadelphia’s Mo’ne Davis knows hoops, too

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Veteran NBA ref Bavetta retires after 39 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders still waiting for Hayden to get healthy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

As Durant steps back, US team is moving forward

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Ballmer steps down from Microsoft board

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Competition heats up for Tesla’s gigafactory

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: B7

Peanut, almond butter recalled for salmonella risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

 
McDonald’s to sell packaged coffee nationally

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Consumer prices edge up 0.1 percent in July

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Stocks rise as US home construction rebounds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

US home construction jumps 15.7 percent in July

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

Eddie Lee Staten

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
June Canaris-Heath

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A4

George ‘Wayne’ Hause

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sharon Ilene Boyd

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Richard Ray Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Horace James Sam

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Joseph ‘Joey’ Kenneth Meyers

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Defrances Jean Freeman-Jefferson

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5