Friday, August 22, 2008

And as for all those claims that Medicare is the model for universal health care. . . .

. . . and argue that its administrative costs are minimal and fraud is low. . .

Now have to deal with a Federal Inspector General's report that shows an entirely different picture, as reported by that obvious reactionary spin-sheet The New York Times:

Medicare’s top officials said in 2006 that they had reduced the number of fraudulent and improper claims paid by the agency, keeping billions of dollars out of the hands of people trying to game the system.

But according to a confidential draft of a federal inspector general’s report, those claims of success, which earned Medicare wide praise from lawmakers, were misleading.

In calculating the agency’s rate of improper payments, Medicare officials told outside auditors to ignore government policies that would have accurately measured fraud, according to the report. For example, auditors were told not to compare invoices from salespeople against doctors’ records, as required by law, to make sure that medical equipment went to actual patients.

As a result, Medicare did not detect that more than one-third of spending for wheelchairs, oxygen supplies and other medical equipment in its 2006 fiscal year was improper, according to the report. Based on data in other Medicare reports, that would be about $2.8 billion in improper spending.

That same year, Medicare officials told Congress that they had succeeded in driving down the cost of fraud in medical equipment to $700 million....

Medicare reported to Congress that, for the fiscal year of 2006, AdvanceMed’s investigations had found that only 7.5 percent of claims paid by Medicare were not supported by appropriate documentation. But the inspector general’s review indicated that the actual error rate was closer to 31.5 percent.

That's 31.5%!?

Yeah, that's the basis for universal health care.

1 comment:

Waldo Lydecker's Journal said...

It may not be so much the wrong model for universal health care as the right model for indicting people for fraud.