GOP lawmakers warn Social Security ‘woefully’ vulnerable to doctor fraud

A pair of top Republicans are raising alarms that the federal government is failing to protect $200 billion of disability benefits from physician-assisted fraud.

The lawmakers, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP eyes limits on investor tax break Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (R-Utah) and Rep. Sam JohnsonSam JohnsonHow Republicans split on the Harvey aid, fiscal deal House passes Trump deal on majority Democratic vote Week ahead: Tech awaits Trump budget MORE (R-Texas), cited a federal audit on Wednesday that revealed weak anti-fraud efforts by the Social Security Administration.

Hatch, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, released a statement Thursday calling the Social Security response to fraud “woefully insufficient and inadequate.”

Johnson, who chairs the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, called on Congress to approve his bill, the Stop Disability Fraud Act, which expands the agency's investigative manpower and tightens guidelines.

“Medicare doesn’t allow dirty doctors to treat seniors, yet Social Security won’t even question the medical evidence doctors provide," he said.

The report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that Social Security employees lacked incentives to report and investigate fraud and were often ill-trained to do so. 

While the agency has taken steps to detect and investigate potential fraud, the GAO found that “their success is hampered by a lack of planning, data, and coordination.”