Sen. Kirk Sounds Off on Medicare IDs, Demands Military-Level Smart Cards

Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is spreading the word about new technology that would protect seniors’ identities when it comes to their Medicare cards. “With their social security number prominently displayed on the front of their Medicare cards… seniors are at a high risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud,” said Kirk in a recent press release, which announced the introduction of a new bill that would transform the current Medicare card design into a smartcard that mirrors the technology utilized by servicemen and women’s identification cards.

Smartcards

The Medicare Common Access Card Act of 2014, which was introduced by Kirk in July of this year, would, according to Kirk, “reform the current Medicare card design utilizing smart technology to protect seniors’ personal information and prevent continued abuse of the system.” Specifically, the Act calls for the creation of a Medicare identification card that contains an electronic chip that would store the cardholder’s personal information. This is the same type of technology that is used by the Department of Defense to create military identification. In the press release Kirk described meeting with senior citizens at an Illinois Supportive Living program facility as well as officials from the Illinois branch of the AARP. At the meeting, he discussed this new bill and related technology as he stated his desire for seniors “to have the same level of identification security as our servicemen and women.”

Related Legislation

As it was previously reported by Wolters Kluwer, other similar legislation, in the form of the Protecting the Integrity of Medicare Act of 2014, was recently released in draft form by the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX). The bill was created to prevent abuse and fraud within the Medicare program and included a provision that would remove seniors’ social security numbers from ID cards. The bill also included a provision that “recommends that the HHS Secretary investigate the technological viability of using smartcards to identify Medicare beneficiaries.”

According to Kirk’s press release, “Medicare fraud currently costs American taxpayers upwards of $60 million per year.” He further asserted that his bill would not only aim to reduce waste and abuse but also save taxpayers money.