The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The exact opposite of "Stickin' it to The Man."

Via Dean Baker, a look at yet another example of the Bush administration rigging the game in favor of big business at the expense of the regular guy. That's also revealing, in glorious MSM fashion, for its inability to draw a straight line between point one and point two.

Toward the end of last week, I was rehashing the GOP's obsession with eviscerating federal laws that benefited consumers-- which they do with only slightly more fervor than they enact federal laws to do away with consumer-friendly state laws. The other part of the equation has been to simply allow government agencies like the FDA to simply languish by installing hacks or imbeciles who are more than happy to ensure that things don't get done.

To paraphrase Reagan, there they go again. And yes, they've broken the law. Again.

Private insurance companies participating in Medicare have been allowed to keep tens of millions of dollars [$60 million in 2003 alone] that should have gone to consumers, and the Bush administration did not properly audit the companies or try to recover money paid in error, Congressional investigators say in a new report.

Under federal law, Medicare officials are supposed to audit the financial records of at least one-third of the insurance companies each year. But the investigators said the Bush administration had fallen far short of that goal and had never met the “statutory requirement.”

Indeed, they said, the proportion of companies audited by Medicare declined steadily — to 14 percent in 2006 from 24 percent in 2001 — despite a steady growth in Medicare payments to the plans. Those payments now total $75 billion a year, about one-fifth of all Medicare spending.

The flip side of the story?

In separate action, the Bush administration is vigorously pursuing money that it says is owed to insurance companies by Medicare beneficiaries. The Medicare agency has sent letters to more than 135,000 people saying they still owe premiums for prescription drug coverage provided in 2006. In most cases, the premiums were supposed to have been withheld from monthly Social Security checks, but the government withheld the wrong amounts or nothing at all.

Pure, unadulterated evil. They're actively permitting incredibly profitable insurance companies to defraud the public, and turning the federal government into a corporate enforcer for those incredibly profitable insurance companies.