Christopher Jacobs of the Federalist places the controversy over recent comments from former President Donald Trump in context.

There they go again. Following a series of comments by Donald Trump during a recent CNBC interview, Joe Biden has brought out the “Medicare” attack in recent weeks, trying to demagogue his way to reelection.

But a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report illustrates the improper and potentially fraudulent spending within programs like Medicare and Medicaid. It should be enough to ask politicians like Biden, and even Trump, who can’t wait to attack their opponents for wanting to “cut” Medicare: So … you support maintaining health care fraud?

Trump’s initial comments will not win awards for clarity, but the general tenor seems clear: “First of all, there is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements — in terms of cutting — and also in terms of the theft and the bad management of entitlements.”

Two weeks later, when the GAO report on improper payments for the fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30 comes out, guess which program tops the list? You guessed it. Medicare.

In fiscal year 2023, the Medicare program reported a total of $51.1 billion in improper payments. A total of $31 billion in improper payments came from the traditional fee-for-service program, while $17 billion came from Medicare Advantage, in which private insurance companies contract with the federal government to provide Medicare benefits to seniors.

The fact that government-run Medicare had nearly twice as many dollars worth of improper payments compared to the privately delivered benefit, in a year when Medicare Advantage overtook traditional Medicare in enrolling a majority (51 percent) of eligible beneficiaries, shows a distinct contrast. Improper payments do not necessarily connote fraud. They could be a signal of payments in the wrong amount or without the proper documentation.