Fewer Improper Payments?

Ok, two pieces of good legislation passed this week! Along with Rep. Mitchell's bill to block an automatic pay hike for Members of Congress in 2011, we saw passage of improper payments legislation. Sponsored by Representatives Patrick Murphy and Brian Bilbray, H.R. 3393 will strive to ensure accuracy and accountability as it pushes the federal government to use taxpayer money for its intended purposes.

Fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid alone cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year. Other federal entities cited in an April 2009 Government Accountability Office report on improper payments include Food Stamps, school lunches, Supplemental Security Income, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, child care programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Unemployment Insurance, the Universal Service Fund, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Veterans Affairs, emergency response, and procurement. While many of these endeavors may be worthwhile, it is imperative that we do everything we can to prevent further waste in order to ensure that funds are being distributed to those who need them the most.

H.R. 3393 will help to facilitate this process by lowering the improper payment threshold for agencies, requiring agencies to develop action plans to avoid future waste, and financially penalizing agencies that fail to meet accounting and recovery benchmarks. This bipartisan legislation is a necessary first step in reigning in improper payments. After all, it's your hard-earned money and you deserve to know where it's going.

We commend Representatives Murphy and Bilbray for their work on this issue. H.R. 3393 will now move to the Senate for further consideration.

Click here for our coalition letter (along with the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste) in support of the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act.