Posts Tagged ‘Medicare And Medicaid’

Democratic activist arrested, charged with stealing 220,000+ Medicaid patient records

by Michelle Malkin on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

This is article 129 of 339 in the topic Criminal Activity

Keep an eye on this one. I am:

Columbia, SC (WLTX) – State Law Enforcement Division agents have arrested a man they say transferred thousands of confidential state Medicaid records to his personal email account.

Christopher Lykes, 36, of Swansea is charged with five counts of medically indigent act confidentiality violation and one count of disclosure of confidential information.

Agents say their investigation began on April 10, when the Department of Health and Human Services contacted them. The agency revealed Thursday that 228,435 Medicaid records were taken since January.

The documents included names, phone numbers, addresses, birth dates, Medicaid ID numbers and in some cases Social Security numbers.

According to SLED, at least one other party received this data from Lykes. It has not been made public yet who this third party was.

Note: Lykes “served as an executive committeeman of the Lexington County Democratic Party.”

Question: Who received the filched data?

Inquiring minds want to know…and are inquiring. Stay tuned.

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Can you spell Democratic Party cover-up?

The arrest of former state Department of Health and Human Services employee Christopher Lykes for allegedly releasing the personal information of over 200,000 Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries has led to an unexpected he-said-she-said brouhaha between the S.C. Republican Party and the state Democratic Party.

Yesterday, the SCGOP fired a press-release salvo claiming that Lykes was not a former member of the Lexington County Democratic Party Executive Committee. According to the Republican Party, Dick Harpootlian and his liberal minions “scrubbed” the official S.C. Democratic Party website of Lykes’ name. An April 18 screencapture shows Lykes as a Lexington Democratic Party Executive Committee contact, but his name is missing from an April 19 screencapture. Lykes was arrested on April 18.

“The South Carolina Democratic Party thinks they can pull the wool over the public’s eyes. Dick Harpootlian and his cronies need to immediately condemn Chris Lykes’ behavior and apologize to honest, hard-working South Carolinians,” says Matt Moore, SCGOP executive director.

But according to SCDP Executive Director Amanda Loveday, Lykes was not re-elected to his position as a member of the Lexington County Democratic Party Executive Committee during the county convention in March.

Meanwhile, Lexington County Democratic Party chair Kathryn Hensley notes that Lykes had been an active member of the Lexington County Dems. Lykes previously served as a precinct officer, but Hensley says he no longer holds that position. “For the past three months, I’ve been updating our records with new information and sending it along to our state party so they can update their records,” Hensley says.

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The Turning Point for “Entitlement” Programs

by Alan Caruba on Thursday, July 28th, 2011

This is article 1 of 8 in the topic Entitlement Programs

The result of all the drama emanating from Capitol Hill and the White House has been to get a lot of people wondering about the sustainability of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that the “debt ceiling”, the limit on how much the federal government is permitted to borrow, must be raised. It is essentially an accounting fiction because, since 1960, it has been raised 78 times; 49 times by Republican presidents and 29 times by Democrat presidents.

What makes it an issue now? $14.3 trillion dollars worth of U.S. debt.

It is not just the size of this debt, probably the greatest that any nation has ever owed in history, it is that it was initially due to a financial rescue program in 2008 when President Bush and Congress sought to avoid a collapse of Wall Street and banks. The TARP funds were eventually repaid.

Part of the current debt is due to massive spending programs by the Obama administration, allegedly to “create or save” jobs and “stimulate” the economy. They did neither.

The Obama spending programs were, in essense, Democrat slush funds parceled out to the party’s faithful to ensure that teachers and other public service workers would be retained, that General Motors and Chrysler could avoid the normal bankruptcy procedures that would have restructured both companies—and likely reduce union power, and that favored contractors could receive funding for “shovel ready projects.”

A long term, on-going problem has been the current and future debt is attributed to meeting the obligations of Social Security, introduced in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and to the high costs of Medicare and Medicaid. The latter became law on July 30, 1965 as an amendment to the existing Social Security legislation.

In sum, both programs reflect the Democratic Party’s commitment to “social justice” (wealth redistribution) that began in the early part of the last century. Republicans were not immune to this. President George W. Bush added to the costs of Medicare with prescription coverage.

The battle on Capital Hill is between the Democrats, led by President Obama, who wants to raise taxes in the midst of what is called a recession but is truly a Depression 2.0. Raising taxes is what President Roosevelt did and it simply prolonged the Great Depression by sucking money out of the free market economy.

On the other side of the non-negotiating table are the Republicans who, thanks to the Tea Party members of the House, have been forced to reclaim their reputation as a party devoted to limited government and prudent fiscal policies.

It is assumed by all that the debt ceiling with be lifted. It is unknown whether the nation’s credit rating of AAA will be reduced as the result of a failure to substantially cut spending and, far more importantly, meet its obligation to repay its debt. Indeed, the central issue is all about credit.

A nation that must borrow billions every day to meet its obligations cannot afford to lose a rating that is rooted in the very beginning of its history when Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, insisted that all Revolutionary War debts be paid in full.

Social Security is the largest government benefit program in the world.

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CBO can’t claim that Obamacare will reduce government costs

by John Lott on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

From the WSJ’s Political Diary:

a new Congressional Budget Office report on the long-term trend in the federal budget finds that the costs of Medicare and Medicaid will drive federal spending and debt to all-time highs in coming decades. In one scenario, federal health-care spending doubles over the next 25 years, to 11% of GDP in 2035 from 5.6% this year. In another scenario, the debt eclipses 100% of GDP by 2021 and 190% of GDP by 2035. That’s higher than where Greece is right now, and we see what the bond vigilantes are doing there.

What is conspicuously missing from this report is the magical windfall from the new health law. CBO reports that it is “using the same growth rates that would have been applied in the absence of the legislation.” Now they tell us. Hence, Medicare alone is projected to nearly double over the next 25 years, from 3.7% of GDP to almost 7% by 2035.

CBO warns that ObamaCare’s purported payment cuts to doctors and hospitals and the hoped-for reductions in the growth of the insurance subsidies would be “difficult to sustain over a long period.” . . .

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Obamacare waivers on ice — for now

by Michelle Malkin on Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Well, well, well. How’s this for a weekend news dump? The White House is waving goodbye to Obamacare waivers.

The announcement comes as questions about the legality of the HHS program are swelling and challenges to the process persist.

The Overlords of Transparency always have impeccable timing. Also: Indefatigable denial.

Deny, deny, deny:

Removing a potential political distraction ahead of next year’s elections, the Obama administration Friday announced an early end to a health care waiver program that has come under fire from congressional Republicans.

Political considerations were “absolutely not” part of the decision, said Steve Larsen, head of a section of the Health and Human Services department that oversees President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Larsen said no new applications for waivers will be considered after Sept. 22. Approvals or renewals received by the deadline will be good through 2013. Starting in 2014, the main coverage provisions of the health care law will take effect, and such waivers will no longer be needed.

Famous last words.

Now, mark my words. This is an Obamacare architectural fantasy that will NOT materialize as projected:

Instead of approving a new batch of year-long waivers every month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that plans have until Sept. 22 to apply for a waiver that will carry through 2013. In 2014, taxpayer-subsidized insurance will be available to most of the people now covered by the affected plans.

After patting themselves on the back for monthly disclosures of a waiver list that keeps on growing and growing and growing, the White House media strategists realized how damaging the backlash has become.

Disclosure = headache. No more disclosure = no more public scrutiny.

Expect a resurrection of the waivers in some other name or form. As I noted last month, the next sector clamoring for escape hatches from costly Obamacare mandates include nursing homes And as the White House itself signaled in April, HHS bureaucrats have been plotting the process for extending waivers into 2012 and 2013.

I guarantee you: Unions, Democrat lobbying groups, and liberal execs will find a way to get their exemptions — and the White House will find a way to distribute their crony waivers by another name.

Conservative pressure drove Obamacare favor-dispensers underground. Let’s make sure conservative pressure drives them out of power and deprives them of their selective enforcement authority once and for all.

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Previous:

5/18/11 Waive Me
5/16/11 Waiver-mania: Now, nursing homes lobby for Obamacare pardon; Update: San Francisco’s escape hatch
4/4/11 Shhh: HHS grants more Obamacare waivers, considers new 2012-2013 scheme
3/25/11 The Weiner Waiver Wormhole
2/7/11 Look who makes RomneyCare/MassCare’s waiver decisions (Hint: Rhymes with Ess-Eee-Eye-You)
1/28/11 Waivers for Favors: Big Labor’s Obamacare escape hatch
1/26/11 The real snow job in D.C.: Obamacare waivers skyrocket to 729 + 4 states; 4 new SEIU waiver winners
1/24/11 Investigating Obamacare Waiver-mania
12/10/10 Obamacare Waiver-mania! continues: List tops 222
11/17/10 Dude, where’s my Obamacare waiver?
11/14/10 Waiver-mania! The ever-expanding Obamacare escapee list
10/6/10 Obamacare waivers: Torquemada Sebelius spares McDonald’s, unions
9/30/10 Will there be a McDonald’s Inquistion now? Torquemada Sebelius tightens the screws

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How the Obama administration intimidates opponents

by John Lott on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

This is article 176 of 693 in the topic Healthcare

The federal government has tremendous power. This is just one example of government coercion of opponents.

Forest Labs entered into a federal plea agreement in September over misconduct in its marketing of antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro. The allegations were among a rash of government suits claiming that marketing to doctors common among drug companies amounted to fraud against Medicare and Medicaid. The charges were odd given their implication that major companies would be dumb enough to try to hoodwink their biggest customer. The charges also had a political flavor as an attempt to blame drug companies, rather than the fee-for-service design of the federal programs, for runaway costs. But some companies including Forest chose to settle rather than engage in extensive litigation.

In any case, the federal complaint contained no suggestion that Mr. Solomon was involved with, or even aware of, misconduct. And the question of his continued leadership was never part of the plea deal.

Only after a federal court ratified the deal in March did HHS drop its intent-to-ban bomb. Mrs. Sebelius unearthed a dusty provision in the Social Security Act that allows officials to bar executives of health companies from doing business with the government when the firms are guilty of criminal misconduct.

The feds have rarely invoked this awesome power, given the potential for coercive abuse. . . .

This is a threat to every health CEO in America. If Forest wants to continue to sell its drugs to Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration—the biggest buyers of pharmaceuticals—it will have to change management. . . .

It looks more like the Administration’s latest bid to intimidate the health-care industry into doing its bidding on prices, regulations and political support for ObamaCare. This is the same agency that has threatened insurers with exclusion from new state-run health exchanges if they raise their premiums more than Mrs. Sebelius wants, or if they spread what she deems to be “misinformation” about the President’s health bill. . . .

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What is Obama going to propose now to reduce the budget?

by John Lott on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

This is article 192 of 526 in the topic Government Spending
We know that Obama’s last proposed attempt to cut the deficits actually increased them over the coming decade by $1.2 trillion. Didn’t Obama just promise four months ago not to try raising taxes for the next two years? Under the headline of “Obama to Make Small Counteroffer,” here is the outline of Obama’s newest proposal

The details on President Obama’s opening bid in his deal seeking an increase in the $14.3 trillion federal debt ceiling are emerging, and he is certainly leaving himself lots of room to negotiate.
The details reported thus far include:
–A tax increase on high earners
–A Social Security tax hike
–Reduced Defense spending
–Changes to Medicare and Medicaid payments to encourage savings
Not mentioned specifically is an oft-discussed initiative by the administration to raise tax receipts by closing loopholes on the corporate code and lowering the rate in a bid to get multi-nationals to allow more of their income to be taxed in the U.S. Whether this idea will be part of Obama’s Wednesday afternoon speech at George Washington University or tackled on its own is unclear.
There is a lot of potential money there, to be sure. But the sources of the funds are not likely to win many plaudits from Republicans.
The Republican budget plan, meanwhile, comes without tax increases and finds its biggest savings by making cuts. Medicaid, a welfare program for poor Americans, would become a block grant system operated solely by states. Medicare, an entitlement program for senior citizens, would become a subsidy program that helps seniors buy private insurance.
Obama’s modest counteroffer reinforces the notion that Democrats mean to use the Republican plan as a blunt object in 2012. . . .

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Obama’s HHS sued for records of alleged propaganda campaign

by Jim Kouri on Sunday, March 27th, 2011

“We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” – Ayn Rand

Americans are confused over health care because the White House wants them confused, say detractors. Photo: NewswithViews

A lawsuit against the Obama Department of Health and Human Services was filed on Thursday to obtain records related to the creation and funding of advertisements pushing the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

The legal action was initiated by a Washington, DC-based, public-interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and fraud.

Judicial Watch officials filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on March 23, 2011, which marked the one year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s signing of the Affordable Care Act, making it the law of the land.

According to numerous news reports and polls, the majority of Americans opposed the creation of Obamacare and so began a multi-faceted campaign by the Obama White House and Democrat lawmakers to sway public opinion through personal appearances, news show interviews and television advertisements.

On December 15, 2010, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with HHS seeking the following information:  “All records concerning the creation and/or funding of advertisements on the Affordable Care Act.”  On December 17, 2010, Judicial Watch received confirmation from HHS that its request was received.  Judicial Watch received additional confirmation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a component of HHS, on January 14, 2011.  By law, a response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request was due no later than February 14, 2011.

However, to date, no documents have been produced.  Moreover, HHS has failed to indicate when the government agency would turnover the requested documents.

In November 2010, Judicial Watch separately obtained documents from the Obama Department of Health and Human Services regarding a series of three Medicare television advertisements featuring actor Andy Griffith. The Obama Administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air the advertisements on national television in September and October 2010 to educate “Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and family members about forthcoming changes to Medicare as a result of the Affordable Care Act.”

However, according to FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, the advertisements intentionally misinform the American people:

Would the sheriff of Mayberry mislead you about Medicare?  Alas, yes.  In a new TV spot from the Obama administration, actor Andy Griffith, famous for his 1960s portrayal of the top law enforcement official in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., touts benefits of the new health care law.  Griffith tells his fellow senior citizens, “like always, we’ll have our guaranteed [Medicare] benefits.”  But the truth is that the new [Obamacare] law is guaranteed to result in benefit cuts for one class of Medicare beneficiaries — those in private Medicare Advantage plans.

“The first year of Obamacare has been marked by lies, secrecy, and contempt for the rule of law.

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GOP and Obama talk of compromise but circle each other warily, with eye toward 2012

by Jon Ward on Friday, January 7th, 2011

This is article 157 of 526 in the topic Government Spending

The talk is of jobs and fixing the nation’s fiscal problems, but both sides in Washington are keeping their powder dry at the moment, looking for political advantage over the other.

House Republicans are spending the next week in what is largely a symbolic act to repeal President Obama’s health care bill, which will likely go nowhere in the Senate and would be vetoed anyway by the president if it did pass.

But when it comes to putting forth ideas for how to cut spending, or how to make Medicare and Medicaid solvent, the GOP has been clear about one thing only: they have little intention of making politically perilous proposals before the president does.

“Entitlement reform will only be done on a bipartisan basis. So we’re waiting for signals from the president as to whether or not that’s a discussion he’s willing to have,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, in a Thursday press conference. “The president must embrace it.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, acted on Tuesday as if Obama was the one who was just elected based on promises to cut government spending.

“Once we get to the State of the Union, I can tell you, I expect this president to put some action behind the words that he has been using,” Cantor said. “Number one, I am looking to see some significant spending cuts proposed by the president that we can work on together.”

Cantor was pressed for what cuts the GOP will propose, and whether any will come before the State of the Union speech on Jan. 25. He mentioned only a five percent cut to congressional offices, totaling $35 million, and nothing further.

House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, had no answer Thursday for NBC’s Brian Williams when asked to name “a program right now that we could do without.”

“I don’t think I have one off the top of my head,” Boehner said.

Even House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who has been the closest thing to a political kamikaze in the House GOP over the last few years by proposing a plan to completely overhaul Medicare and Medicaid, was on Thursday backing off a push he indicated he might make weeks ago to include the plan in the House budget.

“I never intended, when I wrote the Road Map, that this was going to be the budget or the platform for the Republican Party,” Ryan said at a forum sponsored by E21, a conservative economic group.

Yet just a month ago, Ryan told reporters that he would like to include the “Road Map” in the budget, though he acknowledged then he would have to persuade other Republicans to go along with him.

“I know what I want to do but I don’t know what I can do,” he said.

On Thursday the writing was on the wall that Ryan has received the message from House GOP leadership that the “Road Map” is a no go: “I’m not suggesting that Congress is going to propose this,” he said.

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Obama’s federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predicts that Obamacare will raise costs

by John Lott on Friday, September 10th, 2010

This is article 93 of 693 in the topic Healthcare

Their solution is just to put pressure on companies to lower prices. It is nice to know that the impact of the health care bill is “moderate,” it is just that it is “moderate” in the wrong direction.

The health-care overhaul enacted last spring won’t significantly change national health spending over the next decade compared with projections before the law was passed, according to government figures released Thursday.

The report by federal number-crunchers casts fresh doubt on Democrats’ argument that the health-care law would curb the sharp increase in costs over the long term, the second setback this week for one of the party’s biggest legislative achievements.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that insurance companies have proposed rate increases ranging from 1% to 9% nationwide that they attribute specifically to new health-law coverage mandates.

Democrats signaled they would ratchet up pressure on the companies. “Insurers are using the consumer protections in health reform as a cover for their own greed,” said Rep. Pete Stark (D., Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee. . . .

Regardless of the health law, national health spending has been rising in recent years and economists expect that to continue. In February, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projected that overall national health spending would increase an average of 6.1% a year over the next decade.

The center’s economists recalculated the numbers in light of the health bill and now project that the increase will average 6.3% a year, according to a report in the journal Health Affairs. Total U.S. health spending will reach $4.6 trillion by 2019, accounting for nearly one of every five U.S. dollars spent, the report says. . . .

After looking at those figures, note this:

Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul in coming weeks, complicating Democrats’ efforts to trumpet their signature achievement before the midterm elections.

Aetna Inc., some BlueCross BlueShield plans and other smaller carriers have asked for premium increases of between 1% and 9% to pay for extra benefits required under the law, according to filings with state regulators. . . .

Take an example. Out of pocket expenditures such as co-payments decline, but there is a reason that insurance companies have co-pays. Getting rid of them will raise costs as the insured are less careful about the health care that they buy. That raises costs.

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