Phil Roe Supports Bill That Enables Medicare Fraud
Waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare is rampant, quite regularly hospitals and healthcare providers routinely overcharge the largest federal healthcare program for services provided for patients. The Recovery Audit Contracts (RAC) program has proven to be extremely effective in identifying and rooting out Medicare fraud, but that doesn’t sit well with the hospital industry, that sees the aggressive rooting out of fraud as cutting into their profit margins. As special interest groups do, they turn bought-and-paid-for politicians in Washington D.C. to give them what they want. In this instance, the American Hospital Association, and other representatives of the major corporate hospital groups, want the RAC program gutted.
Politicians like Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Phil Roe (R-TN), along with more than 100 others members of the House and the Senate, are there to dutifully serve the hospital interests, in gutting the RAC program, against the interest of their constituents back home in their districts. Rep. Graves has sponsored, and Rep. Roe and others co-sponsored, the “Medicare Audit Improvement Act,” which is H.R. 2156 in it’s 2015 form, and H.R. 1250 in its 2013 form. Simply put, this bill would gut the RAC program by severely limiting what percentage of billing could be reviewed by RACs, and placing other limits and restrictions on the program. In short, the bill would enable billions in Medicare fraud, and putting more money into hospitals over-charging Medicare for services provided.
By reviewing just a small fraction of Medicare billing, the RAC program had rooted out $8.9 billion in fraud in just one year, and could easily find an estimated $50 billion Medicare fraud if the program was expanded. Not only did Phil Roe not stand up for taxpayers, and his own constituents by advocating the full expansion of the RAC program, he has stood for shutting it down by sponsoring H.R. 1250 in 2013, the earlier version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Graves, that would all but eliminate the RAC program.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) has spent $33.8 million in the last couple years in lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill against the RAC program. Additionally, the AHA and other groups representing hospital owning corporations have donated more than $4.1 million to politicians, in an effort to buy their votes for legislation like the Medicare fraud-enabling so-called Medicare Audit Improvement Act. The corrupt politicians receiving this money are the likes of Sam Graves and Phil Roe, who support the legislation to gut the RAC program that is so effective at countering Medicare fraud.
The identifying of who supports this legislation says as much about the cronyism and corruption involved as does those who oppose it. Grass-roots taxpayer advocacy groups like the National Taxpayer Union and Citizens Against Government Waste strongly oppose Rep. Graves’ bill because it’s very much in the interests of taxpayers to strengthen the Medicare program and save taxpayer dollars by rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse. Both organizations have urged Congress to defeat Rep. Graves’ bill. The RAC program could save taxpayers anywhere from $50 to $90 billion in Medicare fraud if fully implemented.
Cong. Phil Roe runs for office on the slogan, “people, not politics.” But his support for legislation gutting the RAC program is all about corrupt politics, and certainly not the interests of his constituents, the people that represents, whose primary interest in this issue saving taxpayer money on Medicare rather than lining the pockets of those who profit from owning huge hospital empires. Rep. Roe sides with his cronies in the healthcare industry that own hospitals, in direct conflicts with the interests of the people of his district. That isn’t doing his job in representing the people, that is serving cronyism and corruption.
It’s no coincidence, given how well Rep. Roe represents hospital interests, that the healthcare industry, by industries, ranks first among industries that donate large sums of money to his campaign fund. Between 2013-2014, they donated money than $85,000 to Phil Roe’s campaigns for reelection. Apparently it’s money well spent for needed favors, given that he over-rides the interests of the taxpayers in rooting out Medicare fraud by co-sponsoring the bill to gut the RAC program.
Politicians like Sam Graves and Phil Roe are best that special interest group money can buy. But the voters in their district should retire them and elect someone to represent them, and not the corrupt special interests, in Washington D.C. Voters need to change who they send to Congress, otherwise we can’t expect anything to change. Government in the nation’s Capitol is broken, and we can only fix it by ending the careers of the corrupt bought-and-paid-for politicians like Graves and Roe.
Rep. Sam Graves sponsors Medicare Fraud Enabling Bill
Legislation pending in Congress would gut effective anti-fraud efforts in the Medicare program, alleges the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, EHR Intelligence reports. The legislation “would have a chilling effect on the RAC ( Recovery Audit Contractors) program, one of the government’s few successful initiatives to identify and recover waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare,” EHR Intelligence stated.
Veteran observers of Congress know that vigilance is key. Just when appears the grassroots efforts might have nipped a terrible bill in the bud, it comes back with a vengeance.
Consumer advocates are drawing attention to a bill heavily pushed by the big hospital lobby that would enable Medicare fraud, resulting in billions of additional government dollars wasted on improper payments.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), who is rated a fairly liberal Republican by the Madison Project analysis of his voting record, would gut an audit program that has identified billions of dollars in Medicare fraud at the beck of call of hospitals that would otherwise profit from that fraud.
The legislation, the “Medicare Audit Improvement Act,” (“improvement” here does not mean finding more fraud), already has 47 co-sponsors in the House.
The bill is co-sponsored by a number moderate to liberal Republicans as well as many Democrats, Real Clear Politics reports in listing the co-sponsors. Notably, not a single member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, a group of former doctors in the House who know healthcare well, has signed on.
The legislation targets the “Recovery Audit Contractors” (RAC) program, in which the government pays auditors a commission for successfully identifying fraudulent Medicare payments. Medicare annually issues roughly $50 billion a year in fraudulent payments, according to the Mercatus Institute, which is, for example, about twice the annual Gross Domestic Product of Paraguay.
Healthcare providers are fighting back against the RAC program and support the Graves bill, Forbes magazine reports.
“(T)hey are fighting back in Congress. The Medicare Audit Improvement Act (S. 1012/H.R. 1250), which has bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, seeks to limit the powers of RAC auditors, even impose penalties upon them if they act improperly. These same auditing companies are none too happy about the bill, and claim it will cost the federal government billions if passed,” Forbes reported.
Consumer advocates remind us voters didn’t send them to Washington to enable Medicare fraud. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), is an outspoken conservative who received a cool $1000 donation from the hospital lobby eight days after he signed on as a cosponsor. In fact, a close look at the list reveals numerous lawmakers who received donations very near to the time they cosponsored the bill – as well as many members who will face competitive elections and could really use the cash. Perhaps it’s not to cynical to see that the two are related.
Those payments go to hospitals who are essentially using improper payments to pad their profits, critics of the bill say, and don’t react kindly when meddlesome auditors inform the government those payments were actually illegal.
The hospitals, in turn, have vociferously complained that they are faced with overwhelming paperwork requirements in trying to keep up with auditors’ document requests. Maybe that is worth it if it effectively finds $50 billion in Medicare fraud.
There is something quite interesting about this issue. A top government official recently revealed at a congressional hearing that 51 percent of the hospitals’ appeals of the RAC audits were filed by five hospitals. So, only a small group of hospitals are asserting this is a problem, that they want to be fixed, regarding the RAC audit process.
Medicare fraud certainly is a real issues, as the Inquisitr reported last month, 243 individuals were charges with $712 million in false filings under Medicare. The Attorney General stated that this was the largest ever prosecution of health care fraud. Given the scope of the problem with Medicare fraud, it is understandable that if the RAC program is effective there will be significant opposition to legislation that might gut the program.
Is the Graves bill really a solution to a problem, or perhaps an elimination of a solution that some think is a problem? Consumer advocates and grass-roots activists will ultimately send a message to members of Congress, and it will remain to be seen if so-called Medicare Audit Improvement Act becomes laws or is defeated in Congress. Opponents of the bill clearly see it as an attempt to eliminated an effective anti-fraud program.
[Photo of Cong. Sam Graves from his official portrait via Wikipedia.]
Time to Retire John McCain
Arizona’s Senior Senator for-far-too-long, John McCain, should have been retired by the voters there six years ago. But J.D. Hayworth proved to be a flawed candidates, who ran a weak campaign in that primary, and gave McCain too many openings to portray him as unfit to serve in the office. This year is different, and Republican In Name Only faces a strong conservative challenge from a highly qualified candidate, Arizona State Senator, and conservative champion, Dr. Kelli Ward.
McCain has gone against conservative principles so many times, he should lose the right to even call himself a Republican, not to mention he should have been retired from public office long ago. He has clearly over-stayed his welcome in politics, and should have no business occupying the Arizona Senate seat once held by the Great Conservative Champion, and 1964 GOP nominee for president, Barry Goldwater.
McCain has been ultra-liberal on immigration for years, and has worked tirelessly to give amnesty to tens of millions of illegal immigrants. Contrary to the pabulum regularly offered up by liberals, immigration is not a racial issue; it’s an economic issue. It doesn’t matter what the race of illegal immigrants is, if they are here illegally, they are breaking the law, and they should not be here. The more illegal immigrants we allow into the country, the more unemployed we import. This is the worst possible policy at a time when more than 100 million able-to-work adult American citizens are unemployed because we haven’t had any meaningful recovery from the Great Recession that began in 2008.
And remember the disastrous “too big to fail” bailouts and the TARP and Porkulus spending Bills the liberals and RINOs pushed forward in Washington D.C. at the end of the George W. Bush presidency and even more so during the first term of Barack Obama? John McCain was totally for all of that. Remember the disastrous charade he pulled in October of 2008, when he suspended his all-but-assured failed presidential campaign to go to Washington D.C. to help the liberals and RINOs pass the bailouts? McCain has been on the wrong side of all the major issues in the last decade, and he’s never met a spending or Porkulus bill containing trillions if overspending that he hasn’t voted for as Senator!
McCain was one of 18 RINO senators that voted in favor of the huge government bloated federal budget proposed and supported by the Obama Administration. The budget, which raised the debt ceiling again so Washington could keep spending our children’s and grandchildren’s money out of control even more, was passed by a 64-35 vote in the U.S. Senate, which included McCain and his 17 fellow RINOs voting in favor of it. Including in those 18, were South Carolina Senator and failed presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, the best Senate Majority Leader the Democrats could have, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the two liberal Republicans from New England, Maine’s Susan Collins and New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, and Alaska’s ultra-progressive liberal Republican Lisa Murkowski. Look up the ratings of these senators on Conservative Review and it is clear they vote with Democrats more often than they do Republicans on budget, taxes, and big government issues. They might as well be Democrats, given how they vote on the most important issues legislated on by the U.S. Senate. McCain himself gets a 35 percent score, and a great of “F” from the Conservative Review Liberty Score.
McCain, who was censured by the Arizona Republican Party in 2014 for being a RINO, has repeatedly smeared 2016 presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, as he did in December of last year. McCain himself was a disaster in 2008 and should never have been nominated, there was no way he could have beaten Obama in that general election. McCain had no conservative agenda to run on, and no vision. He’s a low energy RINO that should have gracefully bowed out of politics more than a generation ago.
Arizona voters can elect someone who will truly represent them, and shake up Washington, and bring a refreshing honesty and conservative principles to Washington D.C. That candidate is Dr. Kelli Ward, and Arizona voters should nominate her in the primary later this summer and retire John McCain.
High Fructose Corn Syrup is high priced, unhealthy, poison
What poison am I talking about? A poison that many don’t realize is one of the most unhealthy and expensive substances that many of you eat or drink every day. This poison costs you at the cash register, on tax day, and in the end in your health insurance bill when the consumption of it makes you substantially, and unnecessarily, less healthy. The poison I’m referring to is called High Fructose Corn Syrup, or HFCS for short. HFCS is used in many foods and beverages as a substitute for regular sugar to sweeten the flavor of many products that we eat and drink.
HFCS was invented in a Japanese laboratory in the 1960s as a sugar substitute because sugar prices were high, and it’s not a natural product at all. HFCS is a highly processed substance made via an extremely complex manufacturing process involving several steps and the use of several enzymes and other substances to process and refine the corn syrup in order to maximize it’s fructose content. In the end, it creates a sweetener that is in some ways sweeter than sugar, but substantially less expensive for food producers than sugar because the HFCS is massively subsidized by taxpayers via the farm policies that support corn growing. Additionally, something our government did to favor HCFS over sugar, in the later 1970s, was to limit the importing of sugar, which raised the price of sugar and made it even less competitive against HFCS. If we stopped subsidizing HFCS through corn subsidies, sugar would likely be as cheap if not cheaper than HFCS.
Due to the subsidies, we pay for the high cost of HFCS when we pay our taxes, that go to corn and HFCS producers. Because a high percentage of corn is grown for the production of so much HFCS (and corn ethanol to add to the gasoline), this creates less of a supply of corn grown for livestock feed and human consumption of corn as food, leading to higher prices for the corn that we eat, and high prices of all the meats that are raised by feeding corn to cows, pigs, and chickens. In short, the subsidies to corn cost us tax dollars, and also costs us more dollars at the cash register at the supermarket in the form of higher grocery prices. HFCS is a bad deal all around for us as consumers, and it’s even worse when health issues regarding it are taken into consideration.
HFCS is also the least healthy form of sugar you can consume. In fact, it is so unhealthy, it should be called Type 2 Diabetes in a bottle, or a can, because it does more to increase one’s risk of insulin resistance, and Type 2 Diabetes, than any other sweetener used in food and beverages. Simply put, there are several forms of sugars, and they very in healthiness, or unhealthiness, by the degree to which they cause your blood sugar to spike. This is what physicians refer to as the glycemic index of a sweetener. Fructose is the worst on this scale, and Dr. Mercola recommends that healthy individuals consume no more than 25 grams of it per day, and those with blood sugar, insulin resistance issues, or any type of Diabetes should consume fewer than 15 grams of the stuff. He explains it here, and also notes that the sweetener that has the highest concentrations of fructose is HFCS.
The reason HFCS is much less healthy than regular sugar is quite simple. Regular sugar is made up of a molecule of glucose tied to a molecule of fructose, and the digestive process of your body separates these, and the glucose is the preferred sugar for your body, while the fructose is processed by the liver into body fat, and when too much of that happens, your blood sugar rises, the body creates more insulin, your blood sugar rises, and you are more likely to gain weight. Over time, this process taking place more due to higher consumption of sugar causes insulin resistance, and ultimately Type 2 Diabetes. No one in immune from this. And consuming HFCS brings about this condition so much sooner since it not only contains a much higher percentage of fructose, but the processing of it separates the molecules of fructose from the glucose. This means the fructose is more readily absorbed and processed, spiking ones blood sugar levels higher and faster, and leading to much more rapid insulin resistance. Consuming HFCS at ANY levels, now much more moderate, is unhealthy!
Not only does HFCS cause insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes, but it is also implicated in causing hearth disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay, and number of other health issues. The stuff is just really incredibly unhealthy, it truly is poison and no one should ever eat or drink the stuff!
You pay for HFCS in taxpayer subsidies, and then in the highest costs of food. The third way you pay for HFCS, if you consume the stuff, over time is in the form of poor health, the limits to the quality of your life that such poor health will lead to, and the costs of your health care for that poor health. Treatment for all those health issues, possibly with expensive prescription medications, surgeries, and other medical treatment will run up gigantic medical bills. Most of us will pay those bills to the insurance companies, the hospitals and doctors, or to the government in taxes to pay for the higher costs of programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Obamacare. The more HFCS consumed, the more we’re all going to rendering to Caesar, and Kaiser Permanente, perhaps, as well.
You can eat and drink HFCS if you wish. Check the ingredients of all the food and beverages you purchase if you’re wishing to avoid it. But if you choose to keep drinking and eating HFCS, you will be paying for it now and in the future in at least three ways financially, and in a major way with poor health. HFCS really is poison. And it would likely go away if we stopped subsidizing it with our tax dollars.
Ted Cruz campaign suspended
The objective of course, for those of us who supported Ted Cruz for president last year and this year, was for Senator Ted Cruz to win the GOP nomination, and then defeat Hillary Clinton in November. That plan fell short as Donald Trump won more votes, more states, and more delegates on his way to the nomination, than Ted Cruz did. While we appreciate and honor all that was done by Senator Cruz himself, and everyone who supported his campaign, it is important at the same time that we learn some lessons about why this campaign fell short of winning the nomination for Cruz. If we fail to learn from this experience, we are only likely to repeat those mistakes in the future.
While this is the time to learn from our experience, it is also not the time to turn on our own fellow supporters, because some of us suggest we learn from this experience, or that some of us say it’s time to unite behind our party’s nominee to defeat Hillary Clinton, or because some react to any of this by suggest some of us were never really Ted Cruz supporters anyway. I’ve already seen some of this divisive chatter online, and it has no place in this discussion. A few are showing signs of scary fanaticism at this point, in voicing these kinds of reactions to the more level-headed voices in the aftermath of Cruz’s defeat by Trump.
First, let’s be realistic about the candidate himself. Many of us hoped, and even expected, that Cruz is or would become the second coming of Ronald Reagan himself. He wasn’t. Sure Cruz was the most consistently conservative candidate that ran in 2016, and that had a lot of appeal to many conservatives around the country. And when he lasted to become the strongest challenger to Donald Trump left, he became the last hope of preventing Trump from winning the nomination. Ted Cruz came a long way to be in that position, considering where he started last year. He was, after all, a first term senator, who hasn’t yet finished his first term, who really wasn’t ready to run for president yet.
In a country plagued by eight years of failed and disastrous economic policies, and still suffering from a Great Recession we haven’t actually recovered from, a strong prosperity message would easily win. A solid plan to bring Middle Class Prosperity back to this country would be an easy winner. The voters gravitated to the closest thing that sounded like a Middle Class Prosperity message, the Make America Great Again theme offered by Donald Trump. What did Ted Cruz offer, he was the most consistent and principled defender our Constitutional liberties. That’s great and it has a lot of appeal to conservative activists. But if had little appeal to the voters out there who are struggling to pay their bills and stay afloat in this rotten economy. Cruz’s message was great for the conservative activist class but failed to inspire most Republican voters who are looking for some hope of getting out the depressing economic failures of the last seven years of Barack Obama. Voters are fed up with politics-as-usual, and the current administration, and its politics, and Trump connected far more effectively to that anger than Cruz did. Ted Cruz could have easily inspired voters with a strong Middle Class Prosperity message, and he would have easily defeated Trump if he had done that. His failure to do this is only Ted Cruz’s making, we can’t blame anyone else, not even The Donald.
Somewhere along the line, the Cruz campaign abandoned any realistic hope of winning 1237 delegates and winning the nomination legitimately, and instead focused on a strategy of winning in the event of a contested convention where Cruz would obtain a majority of delegates on the second or third ballot in Cleveland. The Cruz campaign was well aware of how the Ron Paul campaign in 2012 gamed the system and sought to win delegates at state conventions where Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum had won the primary or caucus votes, and therefore should have won the delegates, for those states. So Cruz’s campaign staff out-hustled The Donald’s campaign by skulking around at county and states conventions in many states to win delegates that were supposed to be, in many instances, pledged to vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot in Cleveland.
This process didn’t look right, and The Donald exploited the poor optics of this strategy by accusing the Cruz campaign of gaming the system, and also accusing the party leadership of running a rigged process. The optics worked for Trump, and against Cruz, and after Cruz’s big win in Wisconsin, every state after that voted against Cruz and for Trump, including a state that Ted Cruz was winning in, according to polls, and should have won: Indiana. Ted Cruz’s problems with optics were clear the night he lost the five states in the Northeast. Cruz supporters who dismiss Ted Cruz’s losses in those states because they are “more liberal” states politically are only fooling themselves with that convenient, and inaccurate, analysis. A candidate running on a strong Middle Class Prosperity message would win just about all the states, including those in the Northeast.
Even after those losses, I was assuring everyone who would listen that Ted Cruz would rebound in Indiana, and he still had a chance, even if his chance was slim. I still argued, that Ted Cruz was a far better choice than Donald Trump for the GOP nomination. I wrote and told everyone I communicated with that Cruz was still the best candidate to do all the things that needed to be done, in working to repeal the entire Obama agenda (including but not only Obamacare) and move the country forward towards freedom, prosperity, and a foreign policy based on advancing American interests around the world rather than solving all the worlds problems, regime change, and nation building. Ted Cruz was the only real conservative in the race, I wrote and told everyone who would listen. I never declared myself #NeverTrump, because I made it clear I am #NeverHillary, but I said we would definitely be much better off as a country to nominate and elect Ted Cruz as our next president. I argued these issues with Trump supporters as much as anyone did, including with close friends who were and are Trump supporters.
And then April 27 came. For a moment, time stood still. I was in shock. A friend called, before I could read any news online or hear it on the radio or television, and asked me, did you hear that Ted Cruz is going to announce Carly Fiorina as his running mate today? I said he’s going to announce what, and my friend repeated the news. After a few seconds of digesting the news, I asked, is that real? I thought this could be an April Fool’s joke 26 days late. I was assured it was for real. I asked, what was Ted Cruz smoking when he came up with this idea?
The announcement was wrong on so many levels. It looked so desperate and amateur hour a move. It was a move made only by a losing campaign, picking someone who had come in seventh place in the presidential nomination contest this year, picking up very little support along the way. In no way would such a weak and losing candidate bring anything to the ticket for Ted Cruz. Strategically, the timing and the choice of Carly Fiorina was a terrible decision.
Politically, this choice invalidated just about every reason I so strongly supported Ted Cruz, because Carly Fiorina is not anything that Ted Cruz in fact is. I ranked Fiorina at the very bottom of just about all the 17 candidates that ran this, including even Jeb Bush, because she’s not a conservative, she’s not an outsider, she’s not a reformer, and she is corrupt, tied to cronyism, and bought and paid for and connected to the establishment. To pick Carly Fiorina as his running mate, is just as bad as if Cruz had picked Jeb Bush or Lindsey Graham. If Ted Cruz really thinks Fiorina is qualified to be vice president, how can I be confident, or tell others, he will make great appointments to the Supreme Court or cabinet positions? Suddenly I lost confidence in Ted Cruz to make good decisions after how badly he blundered on the Carly Fiorina decision.
Up until exactly nine days ago today, I supported Ted Cruz for president as much as anyone, argued for his candidacy with anyone, and really believed he was the best candidate for the GOP nomination, and to actually be the president. The he made the pick of Carly Fiorina, quite prematurely, as his would-be running mate if he won the nomination, and the GOP convention went along with Fiorina being the candidate for vice president. It is no coincidence that, just six days after making this colossal blunder of a running mate announcement, and the totally non-Cruz type individual he chose to be the running mate, moderate and squishy Carly Fiorina, Cruz has no choice but to suspend his campaign after being destroyed and losing all 57 Indiana delegates to Donald Trump, just days after Nate Silver’s Polls Plus forecast had Ted Cruz winning the state. Let’s not mince words, and let’s be honest enough to admit it, the Fiorina choice had more than anything else, any other factors, in ending Cruz’s 2016 quest for the GOP nomination. I know there will be some fellow Ted Cruz supporters that don’t want to hear this, or read it, but it’s time for us to be honest with ourselves, and learn the lessons, and not just keep telling us those things that make us feel better, in a false way. Ted Cruz made the mistakes that lost this nomination battle. Donald Trump is not the problem here, nor is he to blame.
Ted Cruz, himself, was the strongest asset his campaign had, as the strong conservative candidate who, as an almost unknown first term senator before that, attracted as much support as he did in this campaign for president. But it was also Ted Cruz, and those he appointed or hired to run his campaign, that made all the mistakes, including the delegate strategy that created such bad optics, the choice to not emphasize a Middle Class Prosperity message that clearly would have won this campaign, and then in the end, the Carly Fiorina decision that was the last straw of a desperate and losing campaign. Ted Cruz made these mistakes, not Donald Trump.
Those are the lessons of the 2016 Ted Cruz for president campaign. We can learn from them and be better prepared for next time. Or we can bash Trump supporters, and those who call for Republicans to unify behind the GOP nominee, and keep our heads in the sands and be doomed to repeat those mistakes next time.