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Bustos: Ending payments to dead people a common-sense way to save taxpayer dollars

December 4, 2013

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D)

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D)

By U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.

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

Sounds like the lead up to a bad joke.

It’s not. It’s true. And just try not to be shocked by these sad 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 three years.

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

To end this outrageous practice of wastefully paying dead people, I just introduced a common-sense, bipartisan bill to end these payments, once and for all.

My bill, the Improper Payments Agency Cooperation Enhancement (IPACE) Act, would not only save taxpayer money, but it attacks a problem that should have been fixed long ago.

I had to take action.

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.

I was encouraged to be joined in this common-sense effort by Republican Congressman Chris Gibson of upstate New York who, like me, is a member of the bipartisan No Labels group. Our group of Democrats and Republicans is dedicated to working across the political divide to find reasonable solutions that benefit the people we serve.

Since taking office earlier this year, I’ve made it a priority to focus on cutting unnecessary government spending and saving taxpayer money.  This summer, I introduced the Government Transformation Act with Republican Sen. Mark Kirk that would cut duplicative services and root out waste in government while protecting the priorities of middle-class Illinoisans.  And the first bill I introduced as a member of Congress was the Government Waste Reduction Act, which is also a common-sense bill that attacks government waste and helps ensure government programs are more economical, efficient and effective.

While eliminating billions of dollars in 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

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos represents Illinois’ 17th Congressional District. She lives in East Moline with her husband, Gerry.  They have three grown sons.

Posted Dec. 4, 2013

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