When a government gets to the size of ours, or even approaches such a size, the amount of fraud and waste becomes staggering. Whether it’s from incompetence, lack of accountability, or the deliberate diversion of funds, the battle to curtail this horrific waste of taxpayers’ money will never be finally won.
The good news is that some battles in this war are successful. Crooked politicians and bureaucrats do actually go to jail at times. And out of control programs are identified and curtailed, though nowhere close to the degree that is necessary for true fiscal responsibility.
Given the amount of government spending for health care, it would be a shock if an investigation were not to find fraud. The amounts of money that slosh around among government agencies, insurance companies, and health care providers are so enormous that they practically invite fraud. So we should not be surprised at the arrest of 412 persons, which includes 56 doctors, in a case of Medicaid fraud that totals $1.3 billion.
“Four hundred and twelve people, including 56 doctors, have been arrested in ‘the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action,’ Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced Thursday.
“‘This is the 8th year of the health care fraud takedown,’ Sessions told reporters assembled at the main DOJ building in Washington, DC.
“The main focus of the investigation was false billings to medicaid and other government health offerings totaling an estimated $1.3 Billion in fraudulent profits for the criminals. ‘As a result of this operation, 295 health care providers are now in the process of being suspended or banned from participation in federal health programs,’ Sessions explained.”
That’s not the only problem that has been discovered as part of this investigation. It turns out that the prescribing of some medications is questionable at best.
“One hundred and twenty of the defendants, including doctors, however, are charged with improperly distributing the opioid painkillers fueling a demographically significant addiction and overdose epidemic across the country. ‘This problem is compounded by the fact that our country is in the midst of the deadliest drug crisis in our nation’s history, causing more deaths than you have ever seen in our nation.’ Sessions said.”
The abuse of prescription drugs is an interesting one in that it would be presumed that the physicians prescribing these drugs are at least partially responsible for their abuse. We’re not talking about street drugs here, but rather valid medications that are being prescribed either to patients who do not need them or in amounts greater than what they should be taking.
Sessions point out that “[h]eath care fraud is a crime that deserves special condemnation and requires special cooperation to combat. Not only does it involve stealing billions of taxpayer dollars from American seniors and the medically needy, but it also undermines the American people’s trust in our most important institutions.”
“Price went on to point out that this crackdown did not solely or even primarily involve healthcare professionals. ‘You might think operations like this arrest mostly doctors. In some cases, they do, but that is not the case for the majority. It is not even close,’ he said.”
If there is some good news in this story besides the successful arrests, it’s that fraud or misconduct by our medical professionals is very rare. Given that our lives are often in their hands, this is a very comforting thought.