Electronic Medicare system may lose millions

Medicare may lose $140 million annually in earned interest if a system is

created to pay doctors more quickly, the General Accounting Office warned

Congress on Tuesday.

Looking at the benefits and problems of modernizing Medicare's payment system,

GAO told the House Government Reform Committee's Information and Technology

Subcommittee that a faster turnaround may benefit health care providers,

but it will hurt the government, which makes money by delaying payments.

Legislation moving through Congress calls for developing a new architecture

to speed up the processing of Medicare payments, inform doctors exactly

what is covered and allow for electronic payment of claims.

GAO said that the government could lose even more than the estimated $140

million annually if the average turnaround time drops below five days.

"Consequently, a decrease in interest earnings could prompt the need for

additional appropriations or increases in beneficiaries' premiums to compensate

for the interest that the trust fund would otherwise have earned," GAO said.

Gary Christoph, the CIO for the Health Care Financing Administration, which

administers the health care program for the elderly and disabled, also told

the committee that doctors may face the additional cost of paying for an

electronic system to process claims.

"We must remember the lessons of past efforts at our agency and others in

attempting to build a single, "big-bang system,' [and instead] plan our

modernization carefully, proceed incrementally and build modularly," Christoph


Nevertheless, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) co-sponsor of the bill, said it

is time to build an infrastructure that would process the "vast number of

basic transactions that now clog the pipeline and drain scarce health care



  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.