SUNDAY TALK: Grassley on New Medicare Cards

Q: Why are Iowans receiving new Medicare cards?


A:  Congress passed legislation requiring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to remove Social Security Numbers from all Medicare cards. This common sense step will help thwart wrongdoers from bilking Medicare with medical identity fraud and protect against the devastating personal harm of identity theft. The new Medicare cards replace the current health insurance claim number with a unique alpha-numeric code assigned to each individual. This new 11-digit number, the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), will close the door on stolen Social Security Numbers that are misused to defraud Medicare benefits and other fraudulent activities. CMS started mailing out new cards last year. Iowans who became eligible for Medicare after April 2018 automatically were issued a new Medicare number in compliance with the law. Patients and providers will use the MBI for billing, claims, eligibility and all other interactions regarding Medicare services. CMS finished its roll-out a few months ahead of schedule. After Dec. 31, 2019, all Medicare recipients must use the updated MBI number to access health care services.


Q: What should Iowans do if they have not received a new Medicare card?


A: CMS advises three ways to troubleshoot in case you haven’t gotten a new card in the mail.  Call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance. CMS will verify your identity, confirm your address on record and mail you a new card. If it’s more convenient to use the internet, log into your account to obtain your new Medicare number or print your official card. According to CMS, the new Medicare number is available in your individual account, even if you didn’t receive your card in the mail. Accounts are password-protected and secure. To access or create an account, visit As a third option, ask your health care provider. Providers may be able to look up your new Medicare number through a secure portal at the point-of-service during your next medical visit. Of course, Iowans may contact any of my six offices in Iowa for assistance with CMS or any other federal agency. Finally, guard your card. Be wary of anyone who contacts you about your new Medicare number; CMS will not call you without your prior permission.


Q: What other measures are you pursuing to stop Medicare fraud?


A: As a taxpayer watchdog, I learned long ago that wrongdoers will try every trick in the book to milk the U.S. Treasury like a cash cow. Medicare has a giant bulls-eye painted on its underbelly – it accounted for 14 percent of the entire federal budget last year, costing $583 billion. As the returning chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I will exercise rigorous oversight of Medicare and other programs that tens of millions of Americans depend on for health care coverage. I will work to root out waste, fraud and abuse from government programs that pay for prescription drugs and health care services and uphold the integrity of federal grants that provide a vital funding stream for medical research and scientific innovation. Throughout my public service, I have followed the money trail to protect the taxpaying public and strengthen the public health. I’ve examined abusive schemes involving fake pharmacies, over-priced power wheelchairs, flawed drug rebate programs and scientific fraud enabled by a “fund-it-and-forget-it” mentality. Rest assured, I will use every oversight and investigative tool within the committee’s jurisdiction to be the most effective watchdog possible. From improper spending to inflated reimbursements and industry kick-back schemes, I leave no stone unturned to minimize waste and maximize value for Americans served by government programs and taxpayers who foot the bill.


As the author of the Grassley amendments to the False Claims Act, I keep close watch over what has become the federal government’s #1 anti-fraud tool. It has recovered nearly $60 billion to the federal treasury. As a champion for whistleblowers, I will keep those who try to muzzle truth tellers in check and empower those who come forward to report wrongdoing. As an advocate for Rural America, I comb through the thicket of federal formulas to ensure health care providers in Iowa and other rural states don’t get the short end of the stick. As an Iowa farmer, I know it takes sunshine to grow a good crop. Sunshine is also needed to grow good government. Transparency cultivates accountability. As a Midwestern fiscal conservative, I work to pinch every penny that makes its way through the federal bureaucracy. As your senator, I will ride herd to make sure taxpayer health care dollars are working as effectively and efficiently as possible for the American people. From rooting out biases and fraud in federally-funded medical research to exposing negligent care of the elderly and veterans, my oversight work helps restore trust in government and holds government accountable to the people it serves.

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