Jimmy Carter photo

Remarks on Signing Into Law the Medicare-Medicaid Anti-Fraud and Abuse Amendments

October 25, 1977

We seem to have some happy people here today.

As most of you know, I was Governor for 4 years and later spent 2 years campaigning around the country to be elected President. I think one of the greatest problems that we have in this Nation is a distrust of government and its ability to administer programs of great benefit to our people in an honest and efficient way.

Perhaps one of the most sensitive issues is in health care. We have seen the cost of a day's stay in the hospital increase since 1950 more than 1,000 percent. The cost of hospital care is going up a hundred percent, doubling every 5 years.

At the same time, we see highly publicized instances when the Medicaid and Medicare programs in recent years have been shot through with fraud. This was one of my frequent campaign comments. And I'm very proud today to sign into law a bill that has been evolved with close cooperation between the executive branch of Government, particularly HEW, and the House and Senate.

This bill will go a long way to eliminating fraud in the administration of the health care programs of our country. It will shift to heavier penalties for those who are convicted of false claims, kickbacks--changing these from misdemeanors to felonies--and also prohibiting those who are convicted of this crime from delivering any services in the future.

This legislation also permits--in fact, requires--the Department of HEW to set up both simplified and also standardized forms for reporting the delivery of services in the health care field and also the charging for those services.

In the past it's been quite difficult, as you know who have watched the evening news, to determine exactly who owns the health provider entities that deliver health care and quite often conceal who is responsible when a violation of the law does exist. This legislation requires that anyone who owns as much as 5 percent in a health provider company or hospital or health care center must reveal their identity to the public.

We have included also in this bill an allocation of aid funds to establish among the States, or within each individual State, a fraud unit to detect and to root out and to prevent fraud from continuing. And this bill also provides more effective use of the PSRO's, or the professional standards review organizations, that are designed to let health care providers themselves monitor their own activities and their own efficiency of operation.

The overwhelming majority of doctors and hospital and nursing home administrators are honest, patriotic, and deeply dedicated to giving good health care according to the law and in the best interests of their patients. And we want to make sure that they who are honest can have a more efficient means by which they can patrol or monitor their own professions.

I'm very thankful today to sign into law the House of Representatives bill number 3. And I want to congratulate Danny Rostenkowski and Paul Rogers and Senator Talmadge and their fellow workers in the Congress behind me for having been so successful in passing this bill.

We hope, without too much delay, to have a hospital cost containment legislation passed as well. All these men and their committees are working on this. And I hope, certainly early next year, we might get this additional law on the books.

But this is a major step forward. And as I sign this legislation, it's with a great deal of gratitude to them for their fine leadership in moving our Nation one step forward toward better health care, more efficient for the taxpayers, and with a restoration of the confidence in our government that is so well deserved.

[At this point, the President signed H.R. 3 into law.]

Thank you very much. I made it.

Note: The President spoke at 1: 31 p.m. at the signing ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House.

As enacted, H.R. 3 is Public Law 95-142, approved October 25.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks on Signing Into Law the Medicare-Medicaid Anti-Fraud and Abuse Amendments Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242318

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