A March 30 article in Health Care on Bloomberg Law, “New Medicare Cards Could Spell Trouble for Doctors, Seniors,” discussed whether new Medicare identification cards that do not contain Social Security numbers will deter fraud or end up encouraging scammers and hindering physician billing. Day Pitney’s Eric Fader was quoted in the article.The new cards will initially be mailed out to Medicare beneficiaries in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia starting this month and the roll-out is expected to be completed by April 2019.
Eric told Bloomberg Law that reducing the number of Social Security numbers in circulation should be enormously helpful in preventing fraud, but it’s just a matter of time before databases containing the new Medicare identifiers start getting hacked. “Implementing the new numbers will only delay and reduce, not eliminate, the theft of Medicare services,” he said. Starting over with new Medicare identifiers is less critical than improving overall data security throughout the health-care industry, down to the individual hospital or provider’s office level, Eric added.
That being said, the year-long roll-out should give Medicare beneficiaries and health-care providers enough time to get used to the new cards, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is planning numerous outreach efforts, including mailings, social media posts, and public service announcements, Eric noted. “There are always some laggards with any major shift of this nature, but if need be the transition period can be extended if CMS perceives that widespread confusion persists,” he said.