Federal agencies made $125 billion in improper payments last year, including tax credits to people who didn’t qualify, Medicare payments for treatments that might not be necessary and unemployment benefits for people who were actually working, said a government report released Monday.
The level of improper payments was a new high after several years of declines. In addition to fraud, the errors included overpayments and underpayments, as well payments made without proper documentation.
While the errors were spread among 22 federal agencies, three programs stood out: Medicare, Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Together, the three programs accounted for more than $93 billion in improper payments, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
“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-Wisc., 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.”