Health care

Government paid millions in Medicare to deceased, illegal immigrants

The federal government has paid tens of millions of dollars in Medicare benefits to dead people and illegal immigrants, according to a pair of reports from federal watchdogs released on Thursday.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services paid out $23 million to beneficiaries after their deaths in 2011, according to one report from HHS’ inspector general.

Another report tallied more than $28 million in payments from 2009 to 2011 to individuals who were in the country illegally.

In all, CMS paid Medicare benefits to 4,139 illegal immigrants and 17,403 deceased people, according to the two reports.

Federal regulations prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving Medicare benefits. CMS has policies in place to prevent people who are unlawfully present from receiving benefits under Medicare Parts A and B, but no such protections for Medicare Part D benefits.

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