Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Health Care Troubles ahead.

Health Care is one of the issues that will garner a lot of scrutiny in the upcoming presidential campaign. For once, the Republicans have a real issue on which they could, if they wanted to, take the more high ground. That is the vile, evil business of Medicare Fraud. Instead, they seem to be running around screaming "your mother wears combat boots" at Chelsea Clinton.

If anything, California Greens should be taking up this issue as well and here is the reason why. Medicare fraud is proceeding at an industrialized pace and our Federal Government appears to be powerless to stop it. According to a report on NBC's Nightly News last night (12/11/07) Mart Potter reported.
Year after year government reports have complained about flagrant Medicare billing fraud including this year's Inspector General's report, which says in 2005 72% of all the Medicare billing nationwide for AIDS care, $2.5 Billion, came from South Florida alone, which has only 8% of the patients. Obvious fraud.

Putting politics aside, two questions have to be asked. First, is question of what effect this unchecked fraud has had on health care in general. What good might have been done with those $2.5 Billion? When AIDS research still in not where we had hoped it to be, what would an influx of $$ have accomplished? When ongoing care is still out of reach of many, how many more might be able to manage HIV as a chronic condition? How far might that money have gone toward funding S-CHIP?

The second obvious question is one of what kind of scum bags have turned MEDICARE fraud into an industry. On the show's blog, Potter writes...
In one building alone, I saw nearly 30 offices with signs saying they were either medical supply companies or medical billing companies. Most of the doors, however, were locked, with no indications anywhere of legitimate business. I saw the same thing in other buildings, and in shopping centers--row after row of supposed medical companies that, according to federal authorities, are billing Medicare for millions of dollars each, for services never rendered, for patients never served.
In the highly charged atmosphere of a presidential campaign, this will become a contest between Democrats who want to extend health care benefits to those without adequate insurance the Republicans who will use Medicare billing fraud as the primary reason to force solutions toward private insurance companies. Neither will deal with the real issues that are costing us real money.

What we, the people of this country, require is a system that both services those in need and protects against the scum who will prey on every weakness in the system, one that balances being easy to use with enough checks and validations to preclude industrialized fraud on the scale NBC and the Heath and Human Services Inspector General has found all too evident.

We need a few Republicans who will put true cost reduction ahead of Grover Norquist sloganizing and actually provide the authorization for effective review and approval of claims.

We need a few Democrats who will recognize that such fraud is taking the funding that would otherwise gone to providing services.

We also need more journalists like Carl Hiaasen gave the following sarcastic description of Florida to 60 Minutes.
"... if you took the continental United States and you tilted it a little bit, all the sludge would drip all the way down the peninsula, all the way down this highway … right past my house."

More than that, we need Greens in the government, representation that does not take corporate donations and is thereby free to do the work of the people. Wouldn't that be a welcome change. We need a single payer health care system with the ability to screen for fraud.


Lisa said...

Yes, and speaking of S-CHP, what a poorly conceived acronym. Lakoff should have a field day with it. It sounds like a chip you put in to track your dog, not healthcare for kids. The Repubs would have come up with something much better.

Anonymous said...

This sort of nonsense is just taking money from those who are in need. Worse, this is happening on an virtually industrialized scale: if this isn't organized crime then what is?

The GOP are allowing the fraud and then using it for political advantage to defeat "Hillarycare" or any other (better) reasonable solution to the cost of health care. They simply cannot face up to the fact that their tax cuts in spending are directly responsible.

The Democrats refuse to deal with the issue, focusing only on getting care delivered. Not defending against the fraud serves as cannon fodder AGAINST getting that same care distributed.

One more benefit of the current dissatisfaction with the Donkeys, is that we can perhaps get some Greens into Congress; at least they can argue for real change and not just slogans.

Alex Walker said...

Wes is right! This is another issue for which God created the Green Party.

For some of us who have lived through the "welfare" wars these past thirty years, it is painfully clear how this is going to play out.

I know for many people, the number one problem with Hillary is the war. I understand that and respect it, but for me the number one problem with Hillary is this kind of stuff. C'mon. She was on the national board of the Children's Defense Fund, Marian Wright-Edelman is supposed to be one of her closest friends. She got burned on that healthcare thing when Bill was president. This is one damned issue she should be ready for. But I'll be damned if those pain-in-the-ass coporate Democrats aren't about to blow it again.