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Another White House executive move: cutting waste

Tuesday - 11/15/2011, 8:58am  ET

By BEN FELLER
AP White House Correspondent

KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) - Pounding away with executive actions, the White House is laying out new steps to cut fraud in Medicare and Medicaid, keeping up its campaign of acting without Congress as President Barack Obama tends to diplomacy _ and relaxation _ far from Washington.

Many of the moves that support Obama's "we can't wait" mantra are modest and bureaucratic, including the newest measures being announced Tuesday, but are nevertheless intended to show a president in action while he largely faces gridlock over jobs with Republicans in Congress.

Obama, vying for re-election, contends voters are sick of Washington dysfunction and he must act on his own.

The White House is launching pilot programs intended to further cut waste and fraud in the giant Medicare and Medicaid entitlement programs. The Health and Human Services Department will oversee the changes, such as testing changes to outdated hospital billing systems to prevent overbilling, administration officials said ahead of a formal announcement.

To show that its broad campaign to cut government waste is working, the White House says the administration cut improper payments by nearly $18 billion in 2011, largely in such programs as Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants and food stamps.

Budget chief Jack Lew was also issuing a memo Tuesday ordering federal agencies to tighten their oversight of contractors and grant recipients to cut the potential for taxpayer waste.

Obama is in Hawaii, where he hosted an Asia-Pacific economic summit before holding a political fundraiser and spending some time on the golf course Monday. He was leaving Tuesday for Australia.

In his stead, Vice President Joe Biden and Cabinet secretaries are rolling out executive actions to try to keep their message in front of voters.


(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)