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Government Pays Grateful Dead

Monday November 4th, 2013   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 9:07am PST   •  

gravestone_200Recent testimony by Kathleen Sebelius made it clear that the federal Department of Health and Human Services botched the Obamacare rollout in many ways. HHS failed to provide oversight on incompetent contractors and showed particular disregard for the security of Americans’ information.

The Obamacare website was dysfunctional, but the HHS boss could not number those who had signed up even by telephone. Perhaps that was because on the first day a ballpark figure was six. Though a bust on Obamacare, HHS and its wholly owned subsidiaries are doing a bang-up job paying millions to dead people.

According to Inspector General reports, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, (CMS) “inappropriately paid $23 million (less than one tenth of a percent of total Medicare expenditures) in 2011 after beneficiaries’ deaths.” Note that it was “inappropriate” to thus enrich the dead, but it happened anyway. So any safeguards CMS might have had in place clearly failed. These payments went to dead patients, but the government also shelled out money to dead doctors.

From 2009 to 2011 CMS paid out $25 million to physicians after their “dates of death,” and for years after legislators notified CMS of the problem. Here too the freespending bureaucrats felt compelled to explain that the grateful dead amounted to just a small percentage of overall payouts. But not all beneficiaries of government largesse were pushing up daisies.

HHS agencies such as CMS “did not have a policy addressing payments for unlawfully present beneficiaries.” That is, those who by current law are not supposed to be in the United States. So from 2009 through 2011 CMS shelled out $29 million in “unallowable gross drug costs” to 4,139 unlawfully present beneficiaries, who were doubtless grateful for the “free” drugs.

CMS boss Marilyn Tavenner is on record that CMS “is committed to preventing or recovering Medicare payments made on behalf of deceased beneficiaries.” That will come as little comfort to taxpayers, who may have heard Tavenner give a rather lame explanation of Obamacare failures.

Government agencies that cannot roll out a website succeed famously at transferring taxpayer dollars to dead people. For all but the willfully blind, this is more evidence that health care is too important for government to be involved.

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November 2013