Mar 4, 2010

Sure, why not defend the people who have been ripping us off for years?

In December of 1993, Neoconservative publisher and pundit William Kristol wrote a five-page memo explaining that if the Clinton health care plan was implemented, and actually improves the lives of Americans, the success of the program would badly damage the Republican Party by improving Americans’ relationship with government. Therefore, the plan must be stopped before it can begin. Kristol writes in part: “Passage of the Clinton health care plan, in any form, would guarantee and likely make permanent an unprecedented federal intrusion into and disruption of the American economy—and the establishment of the largest federal entitlement program since Social Security. It’s [sic] success would signal a rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment we have begun rolling back that idea in other areas.… The long term political effects of a successful Clinton health care bill will be even worse—much worse. It will relegitimize middle-class dependency for ‘security’ on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government…”
In December 14, 2000, HCA Inc., the largest for-profit hospital chain in the US, reached a settlement with the Justice Department over allegations of having defrauded the government. As part of the agreement, the company pleaded guilty to 14 criminal counts and agreed to pay more than $840 million in criminal fines, civil penalties, and damages. The Justice Department’s investigation found that the company had employed a variety of schemes to falsely charge or overcharge for services provided to patients covered by federal health plans. HCA billed Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health care programs for lab tests that were not medically necessary or ordered by physicians. It billed the government for non-reimbursable expenses by disguising them as reimbursable “community education” expenses or as “management fees.” Other violations included using incorrect diagnostic codes when billing the government in order to increase its revenue, billing for services rendered to patients who did not qualify to receive them, and billing for services that were never performed. Of the total amount settled upon, $95 million is for violations committed by two HCA subsidiaries, Columbia Homecare Group Inc. and Columbia Management Companies Inc. The two companies had engaged in cost report fraud, fraudulent billing, paying kickbacks to doctors for referrals, and paying kickbacks in connection with the purchase and sale of home health agencies.

So here we are, painfully close to reforming Health Care in this country, and the public – and even some Dem reps – are defending the doctors and healthcare companies who have been scamming us for decades. The health insurance companies themselves are being ripped off by fraudulent and inflated healthcare costs, but they don’t care, because ultimately they can pass the expense on to companies and the insured.

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