• Obama Pulled Plug On Anti-Fraud Program To Benefit Hospital Lobbyists

    Since January 2010, the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program has returned close to $10 billion in improper payments to the Medicare Trust Fund. Rather than embrace the program as a model of success, the White House, buckling to the lobbyists of the American Hospital Association (AHA), has systematically undermined RAC.  Now a coalition of conservative organizations are demanding Congress intervene to save the program.

    Waste in government is rampant and the Medicare Trust Fund has become a hot bed of improper and often illegal payments. From disbursements to illegal aliens to crooked power scooter companies, the Department of Health Human Services (HHS) believes that at least $50 billion has been improperly handed out.  To protect the integrity of Medicare, Congress created the RACs, an incentive program designed to weed out abuse of the system.  The program has become a example of effectiveness and a target for the hospital lobby, some of the largest recipients of improper payments.

    Rather than repay the excess, the hospitals fired up their lobbyists for an unprecedented campaign to kill the program.  The White House has sided with the hospitals, suspending much of the program.  A coalition of conservative groups are demanding that Congress intervene to restore RACs.

    In a letter to members of Congress, the groups, led by the Citizens Against Government Waste, noted Medicare’s “suspensions are bewildering in light of the RACs’ proven track record of recovering billions of dollars for taxpayers and the fiscally unsustainable Medicare Trust Fund.  The RAC program helped lead to a reduction in Medicare improper payments, which dropped from 10.8 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2009 to 8.5 percent in FY 2012.”   Since the program was sidelined, HHS reported, “improper payments have risen to 12.7 percent in FY 2014, which equates to $46 billion.”

    The groups are urging Congress to “help prevent the enactment of any further impediments to the RAC program … It does not make sense for the most effective and successful tool taxpayers have ever had to reduce wasteful spending in Medicare to be nullified at the same time that there is overwhelming bipartisan support to cut the amount of improper payments across the government.”

    If Congress is serious about being stewards of the taxpayer money, restoring RACs should be at the top of their agenda.

    Roberto Escoban

    Roberto Escoban is the pen name of a conservative activist who spent 20 years working in Washington including a decade on Capitol Hill.

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