True Equality

Saturday, September 11, 2010
The Heck with building better highways for better Negro marchers. What we need is to get our fair share of the crooked contracts that build those highways.

Godfrey Cambridge

How do you define equal opportunity? In Cuyahoga County, the right last name and a lack of scruples guaranteed a safe and secure government job. These positions may not have paid very well, but attendance appears to have been optional.

I am happy to report that you don’t have to settle for county money. The federal government is dedicated to equal opportunity for all Americans willing to engage in criminal activity. If you are ready to make serious money, Medicare Fraud could be your big break.

A recent report on 60 Minutes detailed the scope of Medicare Fraud, how easy it is to steal from the U.S., and our government’s inability to control a program that insures almost 50 million Americans. It is estimated that WE, the U.S. taxpayers, are losing about $60,000,000,000 a year to Medicare Fraud.

Medicare Fraud could be overbilling or double billing. Unfortunately, it is most often the filing of claims for goods or services that were never provided. These aren’t errors. We are discussing the theft of billions of dollars.

The politicians will tell you that they are doing a great job. Sure Medicare Fraud is a huge problem, but they are holding Summits and making arrests. Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services, posted her August 26th speech at the Stop Medicare Fraud Summit. Read her speech where she described band-aids like an excited four year old.

Last Friday The Miami Herald reported that Ernesto Montaner was sentenced to four years in prison and Jose Varona , three. The two men were also ordered to repay a total of $4 million. They were billing Medicare for rehabilitation services that never took place. Montaner’s father, the brains of the group, is in Costa Rica. What the story doesn’t say is how much money they really stole and what, if any, will ever be repaid.

Medicare Fraud is out of control because the government won’t allocate the necessary resources. Congressmen, like Anthony Weiner, often cite Medicare’s overhead as only 4%. As noted in the February 5, 2010 posting of this blog, Mr. Weiner has even claimed a preposterous 1% overhead.

* Let’s pretend that 4% is accurate.
* Let’s pretend that much of Medicare’s actual expenses don’t fall into other parts of the federal budget.
* Let’s forget about all of the costs shifted to our law enforcement agencies and courts.

Medicare paid approximately $430 billion in claims last year. $60 billion went to thieves. That is 14%! That money didn’t go to care. That money didn’t go to prevention. That money wasn’t even spent on taxable salaries. It is money, your money, flushed down the toilet.

The new health care bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, attempts to level the playing field. Insurers are being forced to reduce their overhead expenses. Part of the savings will come from a reduction in agent compensation (ouch). Home Office personnel will also be cut. But the insurers, unlike the government, will never pay out 10% or more of their claims to crooks.

As long as there are cars, there will be ample opportunities to scam big money as a construction contractor. But I think if Godfrey Cambridge was delivering that stand-up comedy routine today about equal opportunity, he would want to know whether Blacks in Detroit or Los Angeles were getting their fair share of the Medicare Fraud largesse.

Rest in Peace Mr. Cambridge. Everyone’s getting their cut.

DAVE

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