Biometric technology could provide a highly effective way to reduce fraud in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the Security Industry Association (SIA) advised the Senate Finance Committee in late June.

The committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid, on May 2 released an open letter in which it sought “solutions and suggestions for how to better prevent and combat the multi-billion dollar problem of waste, fraud and abuse” in the federal government’s two largest health care programs.

SIA responded with a white paper in which it asserted that “The use of biometrics in identification and authentication will meet the goals of the reforms” identified by the committee.

The association stated that the use of biometrics would have several positive effects, including protecting beneficiaries, since it would “provide assurance that patient information is protected and is bound to the correct person,” and improving payment integrity by “ensuring that services claimed to have been delivered to beneficiaries actually have been delivered.”

SIA stressed the importance of privacy protection in the implementation of a biometric program, stating that beneficiaries must have control over how biometric data is used and that best practices must be utilized to protect personally identifiable information. It also pointed committee members to the SIA Privacy Framework, which provides guidelines for implementing electronic security technology in a way that maximizes both security and privacy. 

The Finance Committee plans to release a document that includes key proposals this year.