May 04, 2004

Medicare fraud
Posted by Jon Henke

Republicans have long decried the Medicare program, saying it was rife with fraud. Well, yeah it is. And the Republicans are guilty, too...

Bush administration officials were wrong to prevent a budget specialist from giving Congress estimates of the cost of Medicare legislation, congressional researchers concluded.

In a report made public yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said efforts to keep Richard Foster, the chief Medicare actuary, from giving Democratic lawmakers his projections of the bill's cost -- $100 billion more than the president and other officials were acknowledging -- probably violated federal law. Recent estimates set the bill's cost at more than $500 billion.

Foster testified in March that he was prevented by then-Medicare administrator Thomas Scully from turning over information to lawmakers. Scully, in a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee, said he had told Foster ''that I . . . would decide when he would communicate with Congress."

I trust somebody will pay for this fraud with their career. They had better. On this issue, Democrats, conservatives and libertarians can find common cause. We got scammed....all of us.

UPDATE: Very curious discrepancy. While the story above - and the story Atrios cites - says the CRS concluded there was a violation of federal law, this story indicates the opposite.

It may have been wrong, but it wasn't against the law.

That was the word Monday from Congress' in-house analysis group, which reported that former Medicare administrator Thomas Scully trampled on past court rulings and Congress' intent last year when he ordered his agency's top actuary to withhold estimates from lawmakers about the Medicare prescription drug bill's costs.

But Scully's gag order on Richard Foster, chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, probably can't be prosecuted, the Congressional Research Service concluded, because individual lawmakers sought Foster's estimates. Federal laws to guarantee that government workers can speak candidly to lawmakers apply only to information sought by a congressional committee or as part of a congressional inquiry.

It doesn't make it any less objectionable. Legal, perhaps, but no less objectionable.

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Comments

In addition to what you included in your update, you should also note the fact that the "White House" is obligated BY LAW to use the estimates of the CBO(Congressional Budget Office) in any budget proposals. This is a fact that is never reported along with this story.

I do agree, however, that the taxpayer was swindled AGAIN. Not by Bush, but by the system, as it exists today.

Posted by: Jim G. at May 4, 2004 11:35 AM