Bounty hunters may go after Medicare fraud

WASHINGTON — President Obama said Tuesday he'll bring in high-tech bounty hunters to help root out health care fraud, grabbing a populist idea with bipartisan backing in his final push to overhaul the system.

Obama's anti-fraud announcement was aimed directly at the political middle.

Waste and fraud are pervasive problems for Medicare and Medicaid, the giant government health insurance programs for seniors and low-income people. Improper payments — in the wrong amounts, to the wrong person or for the wrong reason — totaled an estimated $54 billion in 2009.

The "bounty hunters" in this case would be private auditors armed with sophisticated computer programs to scan Medicare and Medicaid billing data for patterns of bogus claims. The auditors would get to keep part of any funds they recover for the government.

Workers check rock hanging over highway

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. —Workers hiked up the side of a Colorado canyon Tuesday to examine another boulder threatening to fall on a major interstate, days after a rock slide punched gaping holes in an elevated section of the highway.

The rock under scrutiny is about 20 feet in diameter and sits about 900 feet above the roadway, the Colorado Department of Transportation said.

After ascending the canyon wall, the crew worked its way back down a steeper section with climbing ropes to reach the boulder.

It took all day just to get to the rock, and department officials were still waiting Tuesday night to hear what the crew will recommend, department spokeswoman Mindy Crane said.