Oh, good: Federal govt pushing to intensify fight against health-care fraud

posted at 2:41 pm on July 26, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Never fear, good people — the federal government is on the job!

As we already know, the American taxpayer loses gobs of money to the waste, fraud, and abuse inherent in bureaucratic programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but don’t worry, guys — this time, the federal government is really going to get serious and crack down on all of the fraudulent activity, they mean it. And yet… why am I not reassured?

The Obama administration is upping the ante in the fight against health care fraud, joining forces with private insurers and state investigators on a scale not previously seen in an attempt to stanch tens of billions of dollars in losses.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement Thursday that the new public-private partnership “puts criminals on notice that we will find them and stop them,” …

Details of the collaboration remain to be worked out, but the possibilities include sharing information on new fraud schemes as they pop up, using claims data to catch scams such as payments billed to different insurers on the same day for care purportedly delivered to the same patient in different cities, and using computer analysis to spot emerging patterns of fraud. …

Fraud is estimated to cost Medicare about $60 billion a year, and the Obama administration has beefed up the government’s efforts to stop it, bringing in record settlements with drug companies for marketing violations as well as using new powers in the health care law to pursue low-level fraudsters with greater zeal. …

Some antifraud efforts launched with great fanfare have yet to deliver convincing results. For example, a $77-million computer system unveiled last summer to stop Medicare fraud before it happens had prevented just one suspicious payment by Christmas.

Egads — I wonder how many new bureaucrats this endeavor is going to take? The federal government certainly does like to keep itself busy, what with all this relentless expansion and new powers and tasks they’ve been assigning themselves (which would also explain why public-sector workers are so much more productive than private-sector workers. …Ha. Just kidding.).

I generally find that throwing more bureaucrats at a problem tends to decrease the efficiency and effectiveness of solving said problem, while creating even more problems in the meantime. Think about it: If the federal government possesses the august wisdom as well as complete array of knowledge it takes to be able to prevent such problems, why were Medicaid and Medicare so disastrous in terms of waste, fraud, and abuse in the first place? Because bureaucrats cannot foresee all of the secondary effects of their ostensibly well-meaning intentions, but they can enforce bad policy through fiat. Just a friendly reminder of everything we have to look forward to while we “find out what’s in” the legislative juggernaut currently overhauling our health care system and imposing a whole host of new taxes, regulations, and entitlements, yippee!

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