According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the non-partisan investigative agency of the US Congress, federal agencies set a new record last year for questionable payments – a staggering $125 billion.
The GAO found that improper payments actually increased by almost $19 billion compared to the previous year. While the mistakes were all across the federal government, three programs stand out as particularly egregious: Medicare, Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Altogether, those three programs made $93 billion in improper payments. Medicare was #1, with $46 billion in improper payments to doctors and hospitals. Other improper payments include nearly $6 billion in unemployment benefits to those already working.
"This taxpayer money was not spent securing our borders, it was not spent on national defense, and it was not spent contributing to a safety net for those in need," said Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-Wisconsin), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "This is a problem that is going to get worse year after year if we do not get a handle on it now," he told the Huffington Post.
Johnson’s committee held a hearing Monday to talk about the issue and look for ways to cut down on wasteful and improper payments.