Showing posts with label HHS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HHS. Show all posts

Friday, August 14, 2015

Why Obamacare Could be Heading to the Supreme Court (Again)

Obamacare Could be Heading to the Supreme Court (Again)
This past week, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, over the vigorous dissent of four judges on that court, denied rehearing en banc (legalese for an entire court rather than just a panel of three judges) in the case of Sissel v. United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Sissel is a case against Obamacare led by the Pacific Legal Foundation, arguing that Obamacare is invalid because it violated the Origination Clause.
Now, the challengers have ninety days to file a writ of certiorari (an appeal) before the U.S. Supreme Court.
This important case deals with the Origination Clause of the Constitution— which reads:
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
The Founders included this clause primarily to balance out the unique powers the Senate wields, and to ensure that the power of drawing revenue from the people by taxing them would be initiated by the branch that was closest to them (remember, at that time the Senate was elected by state legislatures, not by popular vote) and whose members would have to stand for re-election every two years.
In the first major Obamacare decision, NFIB v. Sibelius, the Court upheld the law as a tax—something that surprised many people.
But if it’s a tax, shouldn’t the bill have originated in the House?
As it happens, Obamacare “originated” in the House in only a very formalistic sense.
H.R. 3590, the bill that became Obamacare, was originally titled “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009” and had nothing to do with health care.
But to secure passage of Obamacare, the Senate decided to take this bill, which had passed the House, and gut it entirely, replacing the entire text of that bill with the Obamacare title and text and keeping only the bill number.
After it passed the Senate, the House then approved the new Senate-drafted bill through a reconciliation bill.
The House made no changes to the text, which, because of the Senate’s obscure procedural rules, meant that when the bill went back to the Senate, it was not subject to a filibuster.
This was significant because, in the interim, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., had died and been replaced by Scott Brown, R-Mass., thereby depriving the Democrats of the 60 votes they would need to defeat an otherwise inevitable Republican filibuster.
And thus was Obamacare born.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Obama Administration Refuses To Identify Troubled Healthcare Co-Ops

A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Federal officials refuse to identify the troubled Obamacare health co-ops that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has placed in a special risk category requiring “enhanced oversight” due to low profitability or low enrollment.
Last week the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that 22 of the 23 non-profit co-ops suffered net operating losses last year and that six were so distressed CMS said they were the subject to extra “enhanced oversight.”
CMS spokesman Aaron Albright, however, refused to divulge the names of the struggling taxpayer-supported co-ops.
He suggested The Daily Caller News Foundation file a Freedom of Information Act request. It’s not uncommon for responses to FOIA requests to take months or even years to be processed by federal departments and agencies.
The secrecy surrounding the identity of the six ailing co-ops is not sitting well with government watchdog groups.
“Taxpayers deserve to know when any sort of taxpayer-funded entity is failing,” said David Williams, president of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance. “Taxpayers need to know the success or failure of those co-ops. We have to name names.”
“Certainly, the government should be identifying co-ops that are at risk,” noted Scott Amey, the general counsel for the non-partisan Project on Government Oversight. “The government seems to be just trying to bury its head in the sand.”
Department of Health and Human Services IG Daniel Levinson was the first to report that six co-ops were in a special risk category within CMS.
“CMS recently placed four CO-OPs on enhanced oversight or corrective action plans and two CO-OPs on low-enrollment warning notifications,” he revealed in his July 30 report.
Levinson further criticized CMS officials, noting that the Obamacare program was now in its third year of existence, yet, “CMS had not established guidelines or criteria to assess whether a CO-OP was viable or sustainable.”
Levinson painted a dismal national picture of the Obamacare health co-ops, noting they were suffering from cash shortages and that their enrollment numbers were “considerably lower than the CO-OPs’ initial annual projections.”
Sparse enrollments could imperil most of the non-profit co-ops that were originally designed to compete with traditional health insurance companies.
“The low enrollments and net losses might limit the ability of some CO-OPs to repay startup and solvency loans and to remain viable and sustainable,” Levinson said.
About $2 billion have been issued in start-up and solvency loans under Obamacare.
Rating agency Standard and Poor’s last February identified 10 co-ops that failed to enroll 6,000 or fewer customers through the third quarter of last year.
Those low enrollment co-ops are operating in Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Connecticut, Arizona, Tennessee, Michigan, Maryland and two in Oregon.
In that report, S&P optimistically claimed that one co-op, operating in Iowa and Nebraska, called Co-Opportunity Health, had enrolled 91,000 customers.
But Co-Opportunity abruptly closed its doors last December and by February the state had liquidated it.
At the time, the Iowa co-op suffered $163 million in operating losses, according to the Iowa insurance commissioner. CMS originally awarded $145 million under Obamacare.
Likewise, S&P also reported that the Louisiana Health CO-OP had successfully enrolled 11,771 customers.
But last month the co-op announced it was shuttering its doors by the end of the year. CMS had loaned that co-op $66 million.
Similar to the experiences reported in Iowa and Louisiana, most of the non-profit health co-ops have been burning through their federal loans at an alarming rate, according to financial reporting agencies.
Insurance ratings firm A.M. Best warned in January that as of Sept. 30, 2014, “the ratio of surplus notes outstanding to capital and surplus exceeded 100% for all of the co-ops.”
Standard & Poor’s Report on the co-ops reported that the worst performing co-ops that were burning through their existing capital were in Illinois, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Maryland.
Thomas Miller of the American Enterprise Institute and Grace-Marie Turner, the president of the free market Galen Institute reported that net losses for all the co-ops amounted to $614 million in 2014.
Last year CMS announced that it was replenishing some co-op cash with emergency “solvency loans.”
Five Obamacare health insurance co-ops in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New York and Wisconsin received solvency loans in 2014 amounting to $322 million.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Health chief defends Planned Parenthood amid calls to defund

President Obama’s top healthcare official defended federal funding for Planned Parenthood at a hearing on Tuesday as Republicans zeroed in on cutting off its money.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell focused her comments on how the federal funding for Planned Parenthood provides mammograms and other services for women.
“What I think is important is that our HHS funding is focused on issues of preventative care for women, things like mammograms and cancer prevention screenings,” Burwell told the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
“We do not fund abortion,” she added, though Burwell noted there are some exceptions to the Hyde Amendment, a law that prohibits federal funding of abortion.
Planned Parenthood has often been a GOP target, but the political storm surrounding the nonprofit has reacheda  fever pitch following the release of a series of undercover videos showing officials candidly discussing the donation of fetal tissue for medical research.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that the chamber will vote to cut off funding for the organization before leaving next week for the August recess. 
Lawmakers, including a group of 49 senators last week, have called on HHS to investigate Planned Parenthood.
“I would like some commitment from you here today on when your department will conduct an investigation on this very, very serious matter,” Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.) said Tuesday.
Burwell resisted those calls, deferring to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
She noted that Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said that Justice is conducting a review.
Planned Parenthood had apologized for an official’s “tone and statements” in the first video but said it has broken no laws and argued that the released videos had been heavily edited to inflict political pain on the organization.
Even then, Planned Parenthood said officials in the videos made it clear they were looking for legal compensation for expenses, not profit. 
Still, the videos inflicted a toll on the group. It has turned to the public relations firm SKDKnickerbocker to help in its defense. The firm sent a memo on Monday night that discouraged the media from covering the videos. 
“The extremists who entered Planned Parenthood labs under false pretenses violated research protocol, and, worse, violated the privacy of patients involved,” the memo stated. “Those patients’ privacy should not be further violated by having this footage shared by the media.”
Most Democrats have come to the defense of Planned Parenthood.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Obama Administration Tightens Grant Rules for Religious Groups

Religious groups that refuse abortion counseling no longer can get grants to help trafficking victims unless they ensure the counseling is provided by a third party, under new guidelines by the Department of Health and Human Services.
In guidance quietly posted online in June, the agency said groups competing for grants must offer "the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care," which includes abortion counseling and referrals. If groups don't offer the services, they must propose an alternative approach to remain competitive for a grant.
That has at least one anti-abortion advocate contending the new policy may violate the federal Weldon Amendment, a law saying federal money can't be awarded if it's being used to discriminate against healthcare entities that won't provide or refer women for abortions.
Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, which stages a big anti-abortion march in Washington every January, called the policy change legally questionable.
"We need to ask if this is legal," Mancini said. "I think it is terrible the Obama administration is willing to put abortion policy ahead of good, loving services to these women who have already gone through the mot undignified treatment of people that could happen."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

10th Circuit to Little Sisters of the Poor: Comply with contraception mandate

Guess which ObamaCare case will be headed to the Supreme Court next? At least, that’s the option open for the Little Sisters of the Poor and their defense team at The Becket Fund for the restoration of a temporary injunction against compliance with the HHS mandate. The 10th Circuit handed the nuns a defeat this morning, vacating the earlier temporary injunction ordered by a lower court:
Moments ago, in a departure from the U.S. Supreme Court’s protection of the Little Sisters of the Poorlast year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the Little Sisters must comply with the government’s HHS mandate. This mandate forces religious ministries to violate their faith or pay massive IRS penalties …
The Tenth Circuit heard oral argument in this case December of last year, when for the first time since the case began, Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor, delivered a public statement on the case (see statement here). 
Today the Tenth Circuit ruled that government can force the Little Sisters to either violate their faith or pay massive IRS penalties. The court held that participating in the government’s contraception delivery scheme is “as easy as obtaining a parade permit, filing a simple tax for, or registering to vote” and that although the Sisters sincerely believe that participating in the scheme “make[s] them complicit in the overall delivery scheme,” the court “ultimately rejects the merits of this claim,” because the court believes the scheme relieves [the Little Sisters] from complicity.”
The Little Sisters and their attorneys are closely reviewing the court’s decision and will decide soon whether they must seek relief from the Supreme Court.
“We will keep on fighting for the Little Sisters, even if that means having to go all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Daniel Blomberg, Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
The Court’s order similarly harms Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, the Catholic ministries through which the Little Sisters obtain their health coverage.
This means that the Little Sisters of the Poor will be forced to comply with the mandate or face ruinous penalties, even while appealing their denial of religious exemption by HHS. The idea that Catholic nuns are somehow required to provide contraception through their insurer to their employees — who had to know that Catholic nuns would be the last group one would ask for contraception — demonstrates just how ridiculous this mandate is.
The decision, which is very lengthy, was unanimous on the issues for the LSP nuns. The sole dissent in part addresses the way this decision broadly addresses the impact on self-insuring non-profits:
Today the Court holds, among other things, that the ACA contraceptive Mandate’s accommodation scheme does not substantially burden religious non-profits that object to facilitating contraceptive or abortifacient coverage because opting out does not cause, authorize, or otherwise facilitate such coverage.1 The Court’s opinion provides perhaps the most thorough explanation of the accommodation scheme’s nuanced mechanics that I have yet read. And for argument’s sake, I follow its holding as to the insured plaintiffs’ and Little Sisters plaintiffs’ RFRA claims.2 But I cannot join the Court’s holding as to the other self-insured plaintiffs’ RFRA claims, as that holding contradicts the Court’s own reasoning and thorough explanation of the accommodation scheme.
In reality, the accommodation scheme forces the self-insured plaintiffs to perform an act that causes their beneficiaries to receive religiously objected-to coverage. The fines the government uses to compel this act thus impose a substantial burden on the selfinsured plaintiffs’ religious exercise. Moreover, less restrictive means exist to achieve the government’s contraceptive coverage goals here. I must therefore dissent in part.
The difference demonstrates a well-known weakness in the LSP case, which is how their insurance was structured. The LSP organization has less direct control over its insurance thanks to its use of a kind of co-op, and that was apparently enough for the 10th Circuit to rule that compliance with the HHS accommodation does not actually facilitate the use of contraceptives. Politically, this case is embarrassing for the Obama administration, but HHS has a somewhat stronger case here than with other religious organizations.
The Becket Fund had success in getting the Supreme Court to order a temporary injunction for LSP under the previous accommodation. It appears that they’ll have to try that path again to keep the nuns on the job providing hospice care as part of their exercise of religious liberty.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Despite repeatedly losing its cases over the Obamacare contraceptive mandate at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that it will continue to force religious organizations to distribute contraceptives – including the “week-after pill” – to their employees.

As a news release at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty states, the Obama administration has been handed “multiple losses in contraceptive mandate cases at the Supreme Court,” including the Hobby Lobby decision, and cases involving the Little Sisters of the Poor and Wheaton College.
Last week, the Supreme Court ordered the Obama administration not to enforce the contraceptive mandate against Catholic organizations from Pennsylvania, making this case the government’s sixth loss in a row at the Supreme Court. Currently, four petitionsare before the Supreme Court asking for final resolution of the issue by June 2016.
“The government keeps digging the hole deeper,” said Adèle Auxier Keim, legal counsel at the Becket Fund. “Just last week the Supreme Court ordered HHS not to enforce the exact rules they finalized today. But the government still won’t give up on its quest to force nuns and other religious employers to distribute contraceptives.”
“Especially after the Supreme Court’s recent King v. Burwell decision allowed the government to expand its healthcare exchanges, there is no reason at all the government needs religious employers to help it distribute these products,” she added.
As Keim observes, the Obama administration has already told thousands of businesses they need not comply with the HHS mandate at all.
“So why is it continuing to go out of its way to force religious objectors, from nuns to business owners, to do something it is more than capable of doing itself?” she asks.
Via: Breitbart
Continue Reading....

Friday, July 10, 2015

As Massachusetts food stamp agency tries to fix flaws, experienced welfare workers retire

Massachusetts welfare officials promised the federal government that they will take steps to correct problems with the state's food stamp program, including hiring more staff. However, the food stamp program just lost around 11 percent of its staff to an early retirement incentive.

"You have truly a brain drain with a system that's extremely new and extremely flawed," said Patricia Baker, senior policy analyst at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.
Michelle Hillman, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said, "We continue to assess the positions vacated due to early retirement and will prioritize based upon need and compliance with our corrective action plan."

The state has the authority to use up to 20 percent of the savings from the retirement incentive to hire new employees to fill critical jobs. It has not yet determined which positions will be filled.

The problems date back to a modernization of the food stamp program, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, instituted in 2014, in response to reports of welfare fraud. The Department of Transitional Assistance created a new electronic management system that checked multiple sources of data to determine a recipient's eligibility, then began to automatically cut off benefits based on the results of online checks. The department instituted a new phone system. It centralized case processing, replacing a regional system.

As The Republican / previously reported, the modernization resulted in a huge drop in food stamp caseloads. Advocates for the poor said people were being needlessly kicked off the program and were having trouble reaching caseworkers to reinstate their benefits.

Obama’s Nominee to Head Medicare, Medicaid Agency Faces Questions of Cronyism

An Obama administration official who faces questions surrounding potential conflicts of interest due to his work in the medical services field has been nominated to serve as head of the agency tasked with overseeing Obamacare.
The White House announced yesterday Andy Slavitt’s nomination to permanently head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Slavitt began working as the agency’s acting administrator after Marilyn Tavenner resigned in January.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, oversees Obamacare and the federal exchange, Slavitt joined the Obama administration in June 2014 as principal deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
His appointment to the post was met with skepticism from Republicans in the House and Senate, as Slavitt worked as group vice president of OptumInsight/QSSI, a technology company, before taking the No. 2 post at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The Department of Health and Human Services awarded Maryland-based OptumInsight/QSSI with a contract to build the federal data hub, part of, in January 2012.
Then, following the federal exchange’s disastrous launch in October 2013, OptumInsight/QSSI was tasked with fixing the broken website and continued to serve as a “senior adviser” on the project.
OptumInsight/QSSI is the sister company of UnitedHealthcare, a health insurance provider that offers plans on both the federal and state-run exchanges. Both companies are subsidiaries of UnitedHealth Group.
Typically, government officials who leave the private sector for jobs in the administration must wait at least one year before working with their previous employer. However, Slavitt received an ethics waiver from the White House last year, which allowed him to begin working on matters involving OptumInsight/QSSI, his former company.

Democratic Congresswomen Seek to Allow Taxpayer-Funded Abortions

Democrat members of Congress have introduced legislation that would end the Hyde Amendment and permit taxpayer funding for abortions.
The Hyde Amendment, attached to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services, prevents the use of federal taxpayer funding for elective abortions—or health insurance plans that cover abortions. Exceptions are made for victims of rape or incest, or cases where there is risk of maternal mortality.
Supporters of the Hyde Amendment say it protects the right to conscience for taxpayers, protecting them from funding something that may violate their religious beliefs. Opponents say that the bill restricts access to abortion for women who obtain their health insurance through the government.
The bill to get rid of the Hyde Amendment was introduced by Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Diana DeGette, D-Colo., on Wednesday.
“Each and every day, the rights of women are under attack in America,” Lee said in a statement:
“Today, we push back because every person has a right to health care. The EACH Woman Act is a bold and groundbreaking step forward. This legislation would ensure that every woman can access ALL of her health care options, regardless of how much money she earns or where she lives. Regardless of how someone personally feels about abortion, none of us, especially elected officials, should be interfering with a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions just because she is poor.”
Sarah Torre, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that she believes the Hyde Amendment is a common sense protection for both women and taxpayers.
“The common sense and—until very recently—uncontroversial Hyde language has been attached to every federal appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services since 1976,” Torre said. “Unlike most policies in Washington, this long-standing policy preventing taxpayer funding for abortionis widely supported by the American people and has won approval on both sides of the aisle for nearly 40 years. This policy rightly ensures that taxpayers aren’t forced to fund abortions, which harm women and take the lives of unborn children.”

Thursday, July 2, 2015

CMS’ Secretive Settlement $1.3 billion in improper hospital claims paid out

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services secretly paid out over a billion dollars in improper hospital claims earlier last month, despite auditors labeling them unnecessary previously.
The payments, which were quietly announced on June 1 by CMS, totaled $1.3 billion and involved 1,900 hospitals and 300,000 claims that had been already denied by CMS auditors on two different levels as medically unnecessary.
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals settled hundreds of thousands of appeals for 68 cents on the dollar. The money used to cover the claims will be taken from the Medicare Trust Fund. The hospitals that received the settlements were also not announced by CMS.
Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement, and abuse in government, first noticed the payments.
The group says the process has been questionable from the beginning, with a majority of the claims related to short impatient stays—an area considered extremely vulnerable to improper payments.
“The settlement process was murky from its inception. On August 29, 2014, CMS announced the global financial settlement for hundreds of thousands of Medicare fee-for-service claims that had been denied twice and then appealed by providers to the third level of appeals, the administrative law judges (ALJ),” CAGW wrote. “The vast majority of these claims were related to short inpatient hospital stays (an area that had been identified by CMS as highly vulnerable to improper payments), and had been denied at two lower levels, including by Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs).”
Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals Chief ALJ Nancy Griswold testified in April before Congress about the drastic jump in OMHA’s workload.
During the testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Griswold said between fiscal year 2009 and fiscal year 2014, the workload within the office increased by 543 percent. Additionally, the number of appeals OMHA received jumped from 384,000 in fiscal year 2013 to 474,000 appeals during fiscal year 2014.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Obama can't pass buck on health insurance

(CNN)The Obama administration has had plenty of advance notice about the King v. Burwell decision and the potential outcomes, but it seems the President's only plan is to continue pointing his finger at the states for a problem he created. In fact, when testifying recently about Obamacare implementation and the upcoming court decision, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell refused to give concrete answers to basic questions about the administration's contingency plan or willingness to work with Congress on a fix.  
Just last week, Secretary Burwell was in Wisconsin. She could have used the opportunity to tell Wisconsin residents how the federal government is going to solve its Obamacare mess, but instead she promoted the use of "free" Obamacare services. Free for who? According to data gathered by the Manhattan Institute, individual insurance premiums in Wisconsin for a 40-year-old male climbed 83% compared with pre-Obamacare numbers, and 38% for a 40-year-old woman. For a 27 year-old, the hike was even greater. It seems that P.J. O'Rourke was frighteningly accurate when he said: "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free."
When the federal government pushed Wisconsin to expand Medicaid, holding out the promise of millions in federal funds in 2013, we said "No thank you." We knew trusting the federal government to follow through on its promises would end with Wisconsin taxpayers on the hook.  Forced to accept the confines of Obamacare, our goal was to chart a path to protect those in Wisconsin who needed Medicaid the most, while moving people toward true independence.  
Wisconsin is the only state that didn't accept the Medicaid expansion funds and that has no gap in coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. For the first time in state history, everyone living in poverty has access to coverage.  But despite our best efforts to mitigate the damage of Obamacare, the consequences of the law have been profound as employers have cut hours, while some workers lost their insurance altogether and are struggling to pay the dramatic premium increases. Meanwhile, even many families that have Obamacare coverage can't afford the deductible and doctor fees, while others can no longer see trusted doctors. 
It's clear Obamacare must be repealed and replaced with a plan that puts patients and their families back in charge. 
From the beginning, the President's implementation of Obamacare has been called into question, and in the next week, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on King v. Burwell, deciding a central component of Obamacare's structure: Can the federal government subsidize healthcare plans purchased on the federal exchange?  
    If the high court rules in favor of the administration, Obamacare will continue, unchanged.  And that means the Republican House and Senate must redouble the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

    Monday, June 22, 2015

    [VIDEO] MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber Had Bigger Role in ObamaCare Than Previously Believed, Emails Show

    The ObamaCare consultant who once mocked the “stupidity of the American voter” had a bigger impact on the healthcare law than previously known, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
    Jonathan Gruber frequently contacted Obama administration officials via email while crafting ObamaCare, according to the newspaper.
    The Journal said that previously unreleased messages show that Gruber repeatedly messaged the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) between January, 2009 and March, 2010.
    He offered advice on healthcare policy and informed officials about media and lawmaker interviews concerning ObamaCare, the report added.
    Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told the newspaper that the communications disprove Gruber’s past assertions that he was a limited participant in creating the healthcare law.
    The House Oversight Committee chairman added that his committee had obtained 20,000 pages emails after working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where Gruber is an economist.
    “His proximity to HHS and the White House was a whole lot tighter than they admitted,” Chaffetz said of Gruber’s relationship with the Obama administration, according to the Journal.
    “There’s no doubt he was a much more integral part of this than they’ve said,” he added.
    Chaffetz also said on Sunday he has sent HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell a letter for additional information over Gruber’s contract with her agency.
    Outrage erupted last year when video footage emerged of Gruber insulting the American electorate over ObamaCare.
    He was filmed in 2013 reportedly praising “the stupidity of the American voter” for helping pass President Obama’s sweeping healthcare reform law.

    Friday, June 19, 2015

    Ghost From Clintons’ Past Surfaces In Explosive, Newly-Discovered Audio Sure To Haunt Hillary

    Newly uncovered audio sheds light on the state of mind of the White House during the Clinton administration toward a “right-wing conspiracy” years before Hillary Clinton ever uttered the phrase.
    Former Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Donna Shalala, interviewed in 1994 by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Haynes Johnson, shed light on the early attitudes of the Clinton White House. “They’ve become paranoid. Paranoia. They think people are out to get them – this right-wing conspiracy stuff,” Shalala said at the time.
    The audio, which you can listen to below, was first acquired by The Washington Free Beacon from the Wisconsin Historical Society at the University of Wisconsin. Quotes from the interview were featured in the 1996 book, The System, written by Johnson with David Broder, which focused on the 1990s health care debate, but were not attributed to any specific person until now.
    “There is a feeling in the White House,” Shalala said, “and I don’t know whether it’s [James] Carville or [Paul] Begala or who’s giving them the materials. But sitting on the desks of their staff there’s these materials on this right-wing conspiracy. My reaction to that is, ‘So what? So what’s new?'”
    “[The Clintons are] feeling sorry for themselves. They talk about [conspiracies] all the time,” she added. “That there really is a conspiracy out there to get us. That we don’t have a chance, people don’t understand how much good we’ve done. Our message isn’t getting across because these people are beating us up.”

    Feds Charge More Than 200 People With Medicare Fraud

    The West Miami drug store was called E-Z Pharmacy. A more apt name would have been “E-Z Money.”
    The former owners — Eklis Almanza and husband Juan E. Diaz Gonzalez — pocketed $4.8 million from the taxpayer-funded Medicare program by submitting bogus claims for prescription drugs that none of their customers ever needed or received, according to a federal indictment.
    In Little Havana, Enemisis Torres is accused of selling forged and altered prescriptions of Medicare patients at her rehabilitation clinic, Palmetto Comprehensive Healthcare, to a ring of Miami-Dade pharmacy owners. They in turn fraudulently billed the federal program $21.2 million, prosecutors say. Her clinic was raided early Thursday.
    The defendants are among 73 South Florida suspects charged this week in Miami federal court with bilking Medicare, including dozens accused of defrauding the Part D prescription drug program that was implemented a decade ago during the Bush administration. The total amount of fraudulent claims in the regional sweep: $262 million.
    “By stealing from Medicare ... they have robbed all of us,” U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer told reporters Thursday.
    The South Florida arrests — carried out by armies of FBI and Health and Human Services agents — are part of this week’s nationwide take-down of 243 Medicare fraud offenders in states across the country, extending to Alaska. The tally of false claims in the nationwide crackdown: $712 million.
    The Justice Department in Washington and U.S. attorney's office in Miami held back-to-back news conferences Thursday to spotlight the latest schemes to fleece the Medicare program, which continues to be plagued by billions of dollars in losses to fraud every year.
    Ferrer called the latest healthcare fraud take-down the “largest ever” over the past decade, with Miami, the capital of Medicare fraud, accounting for one-third of all defendants charged this week. “It’s unacceptable, staggering and pretty shocking,” he said.

    Read more here:

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