The government saved $4.9 billion in fiscal 1985 as a result of congressional and executive branch actions on recommendations by Health and Human Services Inspector General Richard P. Kusserow, his office reported yesterday.
Secretary Margaret M. Heckler, in releasing the report, said, "Fraud, waste and abuse skim dollars from programs that should be helping people. The work of the inspector general's office stops that dollar diversion."
The semiannual report covered the last six months of fiscal 1985 and said almost $2 billion was saved in that period, including:
*$240 million from better Social Security procedures to make sure benefit checks do not continue going to people after they die.
*$1 billion from a new computer match system to cross-check income for program eligibility purposes in various income-support program.
*$201 million from eliminating certain one-time payments from the permanent cost base for the Medicare prospective payment system for hospitals.
*$271 million in anticipated recoveries of of improper payments received by various groups.
The report said the government could save $18.2 billion over five years on medical programs alone by taking action on some Kusserow proposals that have not been put into effect, such as:
*$370 million over five years by eliminating from the base used to calculate Medicare payments to hospitals under the prospective payment system certain training costs for nurses and hospital paraprofessionals that are already paid for separately.
*$5.6 billion over five years by eliminating excessive markups and fees paid by Medicare on lenses and services used in cataract surgery.
*$899 million a year by eliminating from Medicare payments to hospitals any amount to pay shareholders a return on equity, and by lowering Medicare payments to hospitals when they earn interest on money set aside for future capital investment.
*$739 million a year by eliminating certain alleged duplicate payments for capital paid to hospitals by Medicare.