WASHINGTON President Barack Obama, making a final push for healthcare reform, will back bipartisan plans to stamp out waste in government-run medical programs for the old and needy, the White House said on Tuesday.
Obama will unveil the proposal during a visit to St. Charles, Missouri on Wednesday to rally popular support for his key domestic policy objective, as the bitter battle over healthcare enters its final weeks.
The White House said the new effort to root out improper payments in Medicare and Medicaid, could double taxpayer savings over the next three years to at least $2 billion.
"We cannot afford nor should we tolerate this waste of taxpayer dollars," the White House said.
An estimated $54 billion was lost through improper Medicare and Medicaid payments in 2009. Medicare is the government-run program covering elderly Americans and Medicaid is for the country's poorest.
Obama is seeking to crack down on waste and fraud as his administration strives to secure an overhaul of the $2.5 trillion healthcare system to contain costs and expand coverage to tens of millions of more Americans.
The action endorses Republican-backed proposals on cheats, in a gesture designed to highlight Obama's commitment to embrace opposition ideas alongside his own Democratic Party.
The plan will offer private auditors a share of the money that they recoup in order to encourage them to dig deeper to uncover improper payments under Medicare and Medicaid.
Obama will also back bipartisan legislation to expand the ability of government agencies to undertake these so-called payment recapture audits by providing more funds.
(Reporting by Alister Bull; editing by Anthony Boadle)