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National Poll Shows Americans Support Efforts to Cut Waste

By Market Watch - Press Release (10/18/11)

  OCTOBER 31, 2011 --

Eight out of 10 American voters oppose across-the-board cuts to Medicare or higher fees for beneficiaries; Strong majority don't think government is doing enough to address wasteful and fraudulent spending.

A national poll of registered voters released today shows an overwhelming majority of Americans think the U.S. Government could do more to prevent the loss of taxpayer dollars to waste, fraud and abuse within Medicare, and strongly favor strengthened efforts to reduce costs through program integrity efforts.

The telephone poll, conducted October 19 and October 20 by Fabrizio, Ward & Associates and Greenburg Quinlan Rosner Research among 1,000 voters nation-wide, shows approximately 70 percent of respondents feel the federal government is not doing enough to properly address fraud and favor serious efforts to stop the tens of billions of taxpayer dollars being lost each year to fraud, abuse and waste in Medicare and Medicaid.

"The sentiment of U.S. voters expressed in this recent poll should be no surprise to policymakers," said Suzanne Mintz, President and CEO of the National Family Caregivers Association. "No one wants to see dollars line the pockets of criminals. Our lawmakers - particularly members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction - have an opportunity to effect positive change, without negatively impacting the health and wellbeing of America's eldest and most vulnerable citizens. Precipitously taking the hatchet to Medicare and similar programs as a way to cut the deficit would be irresponsible."

Other poll findings revealed 83 percent of respondents oppose cuts to Medicare and higher fees on beneficiaries - two key issues under consideration this month by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which is attempting to find at least $1.2 trillion in savings from federal programs by the end of the year.

"We have been hearing consistently that seniors from across the country support smart legislation to eliminate fraud, waste and abuse," said Thair Phillips, President of RetireSafe. "The results of this poll reflect this overwhelming public sentiment, a sentiment shared by many lawmakers as well, that fighting fraud is the smartest and most surefire way to reduce the deficit while protecting the essential services so many of America's seniors depend on."

Today's poll findings underscore an ongoing effort by national organizations representing millions of older Americans, patients, veterans and Medicare beneficiaries urging lawmakers to Fight Fraud First!. Through this initiative, these groups are asking for Congress to target fraudulent spending within the Medicare and Medicaid programs before turning to beneficiary copayments or harmful program cuts. The Fight Fraud First! initiative is also drawing attention to the need for stronger program integrity and enforcements efforts as alternative solutions for addressing Medicare program costs.

Estimates from the U.S. Government Accountability Office indicate that as much as 10 percent of Medicare and Medicaid dollars are lost to fraud and abuse each year - amounting to tens of billions of dollars. Although the federal government has recently stepped up its efforts to prosecute offenders and recover funds, only a fraction of money lost is expected to be recouped.

"We have a remarkable opportunity now in America to take steps that systematically improve our nation's leading healthcare programs in ways that the majority of Americans support, while simultaneously achieving substantial savings," said Billy Tauzin, senior advisor to the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. "The FFF! coalition shares the sentiment of Congress, the Administration, taxpayers and voters that focusing on waste, fraud and abuse is the best approach. No one wants to see older Americans and persons with disabilities pay the price while fraudulent activity continues to threaten patient access to quality healthcare."

Organizations participating in Fight Fraud First! include AARP, Easter Seals, American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, National Association for Uniformed Services, Veterans Health Council, HealthHIV, RetireSafe, National Family Caregivers Association, Men's Health Network, The National Grange, National Minority Quality Forum, Women Against Prostate Cancer, National Hispanic Council on Aging, Vietnam Veterans of America, National Association for Home Care and Hospice and Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.

Full poll results available upon request.

Fight Fraud First! is a collaborative effort on behalf of seniors, persons with disabilities, military veterans, and family members to advocate for the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid. We believe that the smartest and easiest place to start is taking on bad actors within these programs. Together we are working to help the Select Committee find significant savings within Medicare and Medicaid without harming the seniors and Americans with disabilities who rely on these valuable programs. To learn more, visit act.americansagainstfraud.org.

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