Sunday, November 18, 2007

Stealing from the Sick

Over the next year, Presidential candidates will prattle about health care, but none of them will talk about the elephant in the operating room--the massive fraud that bleeds the system.

Another piece of the picture emerges today in a whistle-blower lawsuit that, according to the New York Times, claims "improper sales practices, together with erroneous accounting, are invisibly draining millions of dollars out of vital public programs like Medicare through overcharges or unauthorized uses...systemic fraud across a whole network of companies and more than 7,000 health care institutions."

Cynthia Fitzgerald's sickening account of her experience in the medical supply business involves kickbacks, bribes and bid-rigging. For complaining about such illegalities, she was, of course, fired as a trouble-maker.

Now she is suing under the False Claims Act which, according to Taxpayers Against Fraud, has helped the government recover more than $20 billion from health care companies since 1986, $5 billion of it in the last two years.

But that may be small change compared to the blood money that is hemorrhaging everywhere. According to the FBI, health care crime by hospitals, doctors, pharmacists and other care providers is adding up to between $60 and $100 billion a year in the system that is saving us from socialized medicine.

If we could stop that, it would pay for almost six months of the war in Iraq.

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