Dear Editor:

I read with great interest an article in the December 09 AARP Bulletin, "Aiming to Nab Medicare Fraudsters." I was shocked to learn that fraud perpetrated against both public and private health plans costs between $72 billion and $220 billion annually.

With all the discussion and spotlight on health care reform, my question is; "Why not start eliminating the fraud that costs Americans billions annually?" To realize there are individuals out there illegally billing and illegally receiving payments for services not provided is difficult for me to perceive.

A suggestion to rectify this situation would be to hire agents to "audit" these billing procedures and prosecute offenders to the fullest. Apparently the government knows of these practices so why not create a task force to eliminate it? Think about this - hire 10,000 agents, about 200 per state, at a cost of about $100,000 per agent, with a total cost of about $1 billion. If we could save half of the fraudulent cases or $36 to $110 billion annually, these agents would more than pay for themselves.

Now, I have no idea of the actual costs involved in establishing a task force of agents, but I am (and so are many Americans) intelligent enough to do the math and determine that fraud is illegal and a great deal of savings could result in establishing an anti-fraud program. Dollars saved could be used toward health care reform costs.

I believe Congress should create bipartisan health care legislation but only after current insurance fraud is addressed. Health care costs are soaring out of control for all of us. Corrupt practices can and should be stopped.

David L. Werner

14 Birch Drive

Lehighton, Pa.