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.