From the Washington Post:
The Obama administration escalated its crackdown on health-care fraud Wednesday, announcing charges against 91 people in eight cities who are accused of bilking the Medicare system out of nearly $300 million and victimizing the elderly and disabled people who rely on the federal insurance program…In Miami, 45 defendants — including a doctor and a nurse — are accused of participating in $159 million worth of schemes to submit false Medicare billings for home health care and other services. [Attorney General Eric] Holder said the victims included “some of the most vulnerable among us — including seniors suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.’’
The Attorney General may be slightly overstating the case; it doesn’t look as if the victims of the fraud were always the actual patients who may not have needed or requested the services fraudulently billed. The real victims are the American taxpayers; Medicare is well on its way to bankrupting the United States and anybody who contributes to that process is a public enemy deserving exemplary punishment.The Terrible Twins of the American financial crisis, Medicare and Medicaid, are full of corruption and fraud, and if the Obama administration has decided to crack down, Via Meadia wishes it every success. But we also note that these programs are so large, so unwieldy and so awkwardly attached to the private health care system that a high degree of waste and fraud looks built in — and that well intentioned but poorly designed rules to prevent crime and control costs often gum the system up with red tape. Trying to police a health program with lawyers is not, in the long run, going to do much to cut costs.Still, maybe some stiff sentences handed down to these (alleged) slimeballs will make the other crooks in the system trim their sails for a bit. That would not be a bad thing. We hope the judge decides to bring the hammer down, and that the defendants, if convicted, don’t do their time in the comfy banker prisons with the tennis courts. This is bad stuff, and the consequences should hurt.