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House Passes Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s Bipartisan Bill to Protect 48 Million Medicare Beneficiaries from Identity Theft

December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012

Washington – Today, U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, hailed House passage of the Medicare Identity Theft Prevention Act (H.R. 1509) to authorize the phased removal of Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. The measure was sponsored by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Chairman of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee and Rep. Doggett. Congressman Doggett originally authored and obtained House approval of the Medicare Identity Theft Protection Act in 2008, but the Senate failed to act on it. The legislation responded to a report from the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General that urged the removal of SSNs from all Medicare cards. 

“With identity thieves becoming more sophisticated, a little prevention can save a lot of heartache,”
said Rep. Doggett. “Millions of Americans carry in their wallet or purse something that makes them needlessly more vulnerable to identity theft – it’s their Medicare card. Seniors have spent a lifetime building their financial security. Their savings and credit should not be put at risk if someone steals their Medicare card.

Video of Congressman Doggett’s remarks can viewed here.

The bill was considered and approved by a voice vote on the House Floor on Thursday. It would require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure Social Security numbers (SSNs) are not displayed, coded, or embedded on the Medicare card. Apart from the Social Security card itself, the Medicare card is the most frequently issued government document containing a person’s Social Security number. Private insurance companies, the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense have already begun taking action to remove Social Security numbers from their cards.

The report which prompted Rep. Doggett to introduce this measure concluded that “Despite the increasing threat of identity theft, CMS continued to display SSNs on identification cards it issued to Medicare beneficiaries. Displaying such information on Medicare cards unnecessarily places millions of individuals at-risk for identity theft. This is particularly troubling because CMS instructs individuals, many of whom are elderly, to carry their Medicare card with them when away from home. We do not believe a Federal agency should place more value on convenience than the security of its beneficiaries’ personal information.”