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Put an end to erroneous payments

Published: Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

Did you know that each year, the government erroneously pays millions of dollars to dead people who should obviously no longer be eligible for such benefits?

It’s true, and just try not to be shocked by these statistics.

• A total of $601 million in improper payments were made from 2006 to 2010 to federal retirees later found to have already died. 

• More than $1 billion in farm program payments were made to farmers who were dead for more than 3 years. 

• Medicare prescription drug plans were paid about $3.6 million for drugs provided to 1,500 dead beneficiaries. 

To end these wasteful payments, I recently introduced the Improper Payments Agency Cooperation Enhancement (IPACE) Act that would not only save taxpayer money, but attacks a problem that should have been fixed long ago.

My bill provides federal agencies with the added tools they need to curb these erroneous payments to those who have died. It also improves agency coordination on anti-waste and fraud efforts and improves procedures to better facilitate the sharing of data about instances of death among federal agencies. 

While eliminating unnecessary payments to the dead won’t solve all our fiscal challenges, it is a common-sense step in the right direction and one that has strong support from members of both parties. 

I’ll continue fighting to protect your taxpayer dollars from waste and abuse with both Democrats and Republicans because I know how hard you work.

Note to readers: U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, an East Moline Democrat, represents the 17th House District, which in this area includes Whiteside and Carroll counties.

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