Congressional investigators are demanding answers from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner after she reportedly instructed a subordinate to “delete” an Obamacare-related email conversation involving key White House officials.
In a August 15 letter to Tavenner, leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce bring to light an October 5, 2013, email discussion involving White House representatives. The email was then forwarded to the CMS communications director with the following message: “Please delete this email-but please see if we can work on call script.”
According to veteran journalist Sharyl Attiksson, this revelation is “significant” for a number of reasons:
First, the email to be deleted included an exchange between key White House officials and CMS officials. Second, the email was dated October 5, 2013, five days into the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov. Third, federal law requires federal officials to retain copies of –not delete– email exchanges. And fourth, the document to be deleted is covered under Congressional subpoena as well as longstanding Freedom of Information requests made by members of the media (including me).
Members of Congress are now requesting answers from Tavenner, including why she instructed a subordinate, CMS Director of Communications Julie Bataille, to delete the email exchange rather than telling her to retain it as she claimed was the official policy.
As Attkisson notes, those copied on the email exchange included Jeanne Lambrew, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, White House health care advisor Christopher Jennings, as well as other HHS and CMS officials.
In the 2013 email exchange, Tavenner reportedly explained how CMS staff were dealing with the high volume of Obamacare applications as Healthcare.gov failed. She noted officials were accepting PDF files that “look and act like a paper application” while also trying to accept some information online. Eventually, another official asked for more details on the process.
The Department of Health and Human Services recently informed Congress that they would not be able to produce some of Tavenner’s emails requested under a subpoena as they were deleted. Lawmakers, who are investigating the “processes and procedures” that led to the disastrous rollout of Healthcare.gov, were told “most but not all” of the emails would likely be provided.
Tavenner blamed the email loss on the “extremely high volume of emails” that she receives on a daily basis.
The Friday letter from lawmakers asks Tavenner if any other emails were purposefully deleted and how CMS intends on attempting to recover them. Lawmakers also requested an explanation regarding several redactions made in some documents already provided to Congress.
“[N]ow we know that when HealthCare.gov was crashing, those in charge were hitting the delete button behind the scenes,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in a statement.
Despite the “delete” request, CMS spokesman Aaron Albright told FoxNews.com that the email exchange was saved anyway.
Scientists have created a technique which can cause cancer cells to self-destruct by injecting them with salt.
Researchers from the University of Southampton are part of an international team that has helped to create a molecule that can cause cancer cells to die by carrying sodium and chloride ions into the cells.
Synthetic ion transporters have been created before but this is the first time researchers have demonstrated how an influx of salt into a cell triggers cell death.
These synthetic ion transporters, described this week in the journal Nature Chemistry, could point the way to new anti-cancer drugs while also benefiting patients with cystic fibrosis.
“This work shows how chloride transporters can work with sodium channels in cell membranes to cause an influx of salt into a cell. We found we can trigger cell death with salt,” said study co-author Professor Philip Gale, of the University of Southampton.
Cells in the human body work hard to maintain a stable concentration of ions inside their cell membranes. Disruption of this delicate balance can trigger cells to go through apoptosis, known as programmed cell death, a mechanism the body uses to rid itself of damaged or dangerous cells.
One way of destroying cancer cells is to trigger this self-destruct sequence by changing the ion balance in cells.
Unfortunately, when a cell becomes cancerous, it changes the way it transports ions across its cell membrane in a way that blocks apoptosis.
The researchers have overcome this by developing the synthetic way for transporting the ions but unfortunately this also destroys healthy cells which would have to be overcome for it to be useful in treating cancer.
Prof Jonathan Sessler, at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas, said: “We have thus closed the loop and shown that this mechanism of chloride influx into the cell by a synthetic transporter does indeed trigger apoptosis.
“This is exciting because it points the way towards a new approach to anti-cancer drug development.”
A patient at a New York hospital remains in isolation Tuesday as doctors await test results to determine if the man has contracted the Ebola Virus, which has killed more than 800 people in Africa.
That patient walked into the emergency room at Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side unannounced Monday afternoon showing signs consistent with the illness, namely high fever and gastrointestinal problems.
He apparently had just returned from a trip to West Africa.
Health officials say its highly unlikely the patient has the Ebola Virus, but by later Tuesday, doctors should know for sure.
The response in the ER was immediate, and doctors assure the patient will receive the best care possible.
“We believe the care that can be provided here would be sufficient for any patient with that disease,” hospital president and COO Dr. David Reich said. “We are hopeful there will be a rapid recovery and this turns out not to be Ebola.”
Officials instituted special measures last weekend to deal with such cases.
Up to this point, the Centers for Disease Control says three other people have been tested in the United States, and all tested negative.
Only about 40 percent of people who contract the Ebola Virus survive.
At the hospital, officials say they are more than prepared to deal with situations like this one.
“All necessary steps are being taken to ensure the safety of all patients, visitors and staff,” the hospital said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with federal, state and city health officials to address and monitor this case, keep the community informed and provide the best quality care to all of our patients.”
Testing for Ebola is done at the CDC. According to a CDC spokesperson, testing for Ebola takes one to two days after they receive the samples.
“Many things cause fever and gastrointestinal symptoms,” ABC News’ Dr. Richard Besser cautions. “The steps they are taking are wise given the travel history, but nothing about the symptoms is specific to Ebola.”
The Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever that has sickened more than 1,300 people in Africa, killing more than 700 mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. It is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood or urine, unlike an airborne virus like influenza or the common cold. A person exposed to the virus can take up to 21 days to exhibit any symptoms, making it possible for infected travelers to enter the U.S. without knowing they have it.
Federal agents at U.S. airports are watching travelers from Africa for flu-like symptoms that could be tied to the recent Ebola outbreak, as delegations from some 50 countries arrive in the nation’s capital for a leadership summit this week. Border patrol agents at Washington’s Dulles International and New York’s JFK airport in particular have been told to ask travelers about possible exposure to the virus and to be on the lookout for anyone with a fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash or red eyes.
“There is a screening process that individuals have to go through when they board aircraft departing the countries where this outbreak has been reported. There is additional screening that occurs when individuals who started in that region of the world arrive in this country,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
If a passenger is suspected of carrying the deadly virus, they would be quarantined immediately and evaluated by medical personnel, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which provided the additional training to local airports.
“There is always the possibility that someone with an infectious disease can enter the United States,” CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said Monday. “The public health concern is whether it would spread, and, if so, how quickly.'”
While the CDC says it is not screening passengers boarding planes at African airports – the job of local authorities there – the center said it has encouraged vulnerable countries to follow certain precautions. Outbound passengers in the countries experiencing Ebola are being screened for fevers and with health questionnaires, Reynolds said.
Health officials say the threat to Americans remains relatively small, even with the uptick in travel this week between Africa and the United States. In the past decade, five people have entered the U.S. known to have a viral hemorrhagic fever, including a case last March of a Minnesota man diagnosed with Lassa Fever after traveling to West Africa.
A local woman is being tested for the Ebola virus after a recent trip to a foreign country.
According to the Columbus Public Health Department, the 46-year-old woman is currently in isolation in a local hospital with a potential case of the Ebola virus.
The woman had recently returned from a trip to a foreign country that is affected by the Ebola virus outbreak.
She is reportedly “doing well” in her recovery.
A sample has been sent to the CDC for examination.
While Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber has brushed aside a video of himself arguing that Obamacare subsidies are only allowable in state-run exchanges as a “speak-o” – or verbal typo – a second audio tape has now emerged of Gruber making the very same comments yet again.
“That is really the ultimate threat – will people understand that gee, if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to be delivered to your citizens,” Gruber says in the audio clip, resurfaced by Morgan Richmond and John Sexton. “So that’s the other threat, is will states do what they need to do to set it up.”
Gruber made the comments in a public appearance at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco in January 2012. Gruber’s argument in the clip is even stronger that only state-run exchanges will be given premium tax credit subsidies.
At issue is a phrase written repeatedly in the Affordable Care Act that allows premium tax credit subsidies only for exchanges “established by the state.” Two appeals courts split earlier this week on whether the phrase makes subsidies in the 36 states that didn’t create their own exchanges illegal. Gruber, a chief author of the law, has repeatedly called the cases “nutty.”
But the audio recording is the second to emerge this week that shows that before the lawsuits were brought against the federal exchanges subsidies, Gruber appeared to believe that only states that ran their own exchanges would receive the payments.
In response, Gruber said his comments were a “just a speak-o – you know, like a typo.”
On Thursday the IRS released a slew of draft 2014 tax forms. The new draft Form 1040 shows a new surtax line has been created for the payment of the individual mandate surtax – see line 61 of the 1040:
President Obama has repeatedly denied that the surtax is in fact actually a tax. The most prominent example was a heated exchange on ABC’s This Week in Sept. 2009, when George Stephanopoulos confronted Obama with a dictionary:
STEPHANOPOULOS: I – I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Tax – “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”
OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but…
OBAMA: …what you’re saying is…
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.
OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that.
Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?
OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion. [Transcript]
It was always obvious that the penalty for not complying with Obamacare’s individual mandate was just another surtax:
* The surtax is collected by, and enforced by, the IRS.
* As shown by the newly released draft Form 1040, the surtax is paid as part of normal income tax filing by taxpayers.
* The individual mandate surtax was written into tax law itself by the Obamacare statute.
* Revenues derived from the individual mandate surtax have always been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as tax revenue.
Famously, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that the individual mandate surtax is in fact a tax. However, that does not compel conservatives to agree that Obamacare’s individual mandate is Constitutional. The same decision declared the individual mandate unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. Conservatives can accept that this surtax is a tax increase without accepting the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
The Obamacare individual mandate non-compliance surtax is one of at least seven Obamacare taxes that violate the President’s “firm pledge” not to raise any tax on any American making less than $250,000 per year. Thorough documentation of Obama’s promise can be found here.
President Obama’s un-Constitutional practice of lawlessly ignoring and rewriting laws to suit his left-wing political agenda has come back to bite his signature domestic achievement. Tuesday morning a federal appeals court dealt what USA Today describes as a “potentially major blow” to ObamaCare with a 2-1 ruling against the Obama administration’s end-run around Congress to disburse federal subsidies:
The appeals panel ruled that as written, the health care law allows tax credits to be offered to qualified participants only in state-run exchanges. The administration had expected most if not all states to create their own, but only 16 states did so.
The court said the Internal Revenue Service went too far in allowing participants in other states served by the federal exchange to qualify for billions of dollars in government assistance. The aid has helped boost enrollment figures to more than 8 million.
Once it became clear 36 states could not be bribed with federal dollars or bullied by the media into setting up their own ObamaCare exchanges, rather than go back to Congress to lobby for changing the law, President Obama blithely believed he could ignore and rewrite a law he signed after helping to usher it through a Congress dominated by Democrats.
If the ruling stands, those enticed into purchasing ObamaCare coverage with the help of untold billions in federal tax dollars will lose their subsidy in these 36 states. This is almost certain to force many ObamaCare recipients to drop coverage. The big question is how many of these people lost their affordable coverage after ObamaCare made the affordable insurance they were happy with illegal and cancelled those plans?
“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance,” Judge Thomas Griffith said. “At least until states that wish to can set up exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”…
Michael Cannon, a Cato Institute health economist who helped devise the legal challenge, said the refusal by so many states to create health exchanges led to the court ruling. “This is popular resistance to the law,” he said.
For now, USA Today reports, everything is on hold. The Administration has already announced that the taxpayer-funded subsidies will continue to flow.
Although the ruling will have no impact while it is appealed – either to the full appeals court, which includes four Obama appointees, or to the Supreme Court – the result could be chaotic if ultimately allowed to apply nationwide.
While the political Left and mainstream media are almost certain to wring their hands over the roughly 5 million able-bodied Americans not receiving federal monies (the sick, elderly, disabled, and truly poor are covered by Medicare and Medicaid) paid for by other able-bodied Americans, the principle here is much larger and more important: The rule of law.
Moreover, as Michael F. Cannon of Forbes points out, the winners in this decision outnumber the losers 10 to 1. As many as 57 million Americans will now be out from under the punitive ObamaCare mandate, compared to the 5 million who will not see an increase of their health insurance premiums but will lose their illegal taxpayer-funded subsidies.
Cannon also reminds that the whole idea and original intent of awarding billions in federal subsidies only to those states that built their own ObamaCare exchanges, wasn’t accidental or a technicality. Throughout the law it is made clear that those subsidies are available only “through an Exchange established by the State.”
Congress’s intent behind shaping the law in this manner was to entice/threaten the states into building their own exchanges. After 36 states wisely refused, Obama rewrote the law and illegally awarded the subsidies anyway.
The Constitution is very clear that it is the job of the legislative branch (House and Senate) to write law. The Executive branch enforces the law.
Rather than enforce the law, Obama broke it by rewriting it.
The potential danger of the court’s allowing such a precedent is staggering.
The Obama administration will continue handing out Obamacare subsidies to federal exchange customers despite a federal court’s ruling Tuesday that the subsidies are illegal.
A D.C. Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday morning that customers in the 36 states that didn’t establish their own exchange and use HealthCare.gov instead cannot be given premium tax credits, according to the text of the Affordable Care Act itself.
But the White House said in response that it will continue handing out the billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that while the case continues to be battled out in the courts, the administration will continue to dole out billions in tax credits to federally-run exchange customers.
“It’s important for people all across the country to understand that this ruling does not have any practical impact on their ability to continue to receive tax credits right now,” Earnest said in a press briefing Tuesday.
A three-judge panel issued the ruling Tuesday, concluding 2-1 that the federal subsidies are illegal. The Department of Justice is seeking an en banc ruling from the appeals court, which would require all judges in the court to rule on the case. Eleven judges on the court would hear the case: seven Democrats and four Republicans.
That decision will likely also be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country reported more than 500 incidents last year where patients were gravely injured or died as a result of the care they received.
Data obtained by the WashingtonFree Beacon through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) shows 575 “institutional disclosures of adverse events” – the bureaucratic phrase for reporting a serious mistake – at VA hospitals in fiscal year 2013.
According to the Veterans Health Administration ethics handbook, such disclosures are required when “an adverse event has occurred during the patient’s care that resulted in or is reasonably expected to result in death or serious injury.”
Specifically, adverse events are defined by the department as “untoward incidents, diagnostic or therapeutic misadventures, iatrogenic injuries, or other occurrences of harm or potential harm directly associated with care or services provided” by the VA.
How many of the 575 “adverse events” reported last year resulted in patient deaths is unknown. It is also unclear how 2013 compared to previous years. The Free Beacon has filed another FOIA request seeking this information.
“Until VA leaders make a serious attempt to address the department’s widespread and systemic lack of accountability, I fear we’ll only see more of these lapses in care,” Rep. Jeff Miller (R., Fla.), the head of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement to the Free Beacon.
“Like other hospital systems, VA isn’t immune from human error – even fatal human error,” Miller said. “But what the department does seem to be immune from is meaningful accountability. Given that these tragic events are part of a pattern of preventable veteran deaths and other patient-safety issues at VA hospitals around the country, it’s well past time for the department to put its employees on notice that anyone who lets patients fall through the cracks will be held fully responsible.”
The VA came under intense scrutiny from Congress and the media this year after whistleblowers revealed thousands of veterans were placed on secret wait lists and dozens died awaiting treatment.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned earlier this year as a result of the uproar that followed. The department also ordered a nationwide audit of its consulting practices.
Medical privacy laws strictly bar from disclosure the names of patients and other details, making it difficult to document individual cases. However, the data obtained by the Free Beacon gives a broad view of serious mistakes at VA hospitals over the past year.
The Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Fla., reported 31 “adverse events” during fiscal year 2013, the most of any VA facility.
The VA also confirmed two patients died at North Florida/South Georgia system, where the Gainesville hospital is located, due to delayed cancer screenings.
The system is the busiest in the country, serving roughly 125,000 VA patients per year.
VA hospitals have struggled to handle the flood of new patients in the years following 9/11, especially after the troop drawdowns from Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.
However, numerous congressional investigations and internal audits by the VA also describe a corrosive work environment, where leadership encouraged staff to cook the books to meet performance standards and where whistleblowers were harshly punished.
Three VA officials in Gainesville were placed on leave this year after an audit by the VA Inspector General found the hospital was using a secret paper list to keep track of appointments.
There were also allegations that surgeons were not allowed to perform certain operating room procedures to avoid increased mortality rates, and that patients with a high mortality risk were sent to a local hospital. However, the VA Inspector General said in a report Monday it could not substantiate those claims.
The Malcom Randall VA Medical Center did not return requests for comment.
The VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System reported 26 disclosures in fiscal year 2013.
CBS reported earlier this year that the Pittsburgh VA failed to warn patients of a fatal Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak. At least six veterans died and 16 fell ill from February 2011 to November 2012 as a result of the outbreak, while leadership tried to insulate the hospital from the Centers for Disease Control and congressional investigations.
A Pittsburgh VA official later falsely testified before Congress that the outbreak was the result of the city’s water treatment, when in fact the hospital had known for more than a year that it was caused by human error.
The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., reported 14 “adverse events” during fiscal year 2013, and three cancer patients died as a result of delayed screenings over the past two years.
According to a 2012 report from the VA Inspector General’s Office, five patients died or sustained serious injury as a result of mismanagement between 2007 and 2010, and more than 4,500 gastrointestinal endoscopy consults went unresolved.
A recent VA audit reported that 26 new patients in Augusta had to wait at least 90 days for an appointment. Additionally, 133 veterans were not scheduled for an appointment despite requesting one in the past 10 years.
Since then, Augusta officials say they have reduced the number of veterans waiting at least 90 days for an appointment from 26 patients to two.
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson toured the center last week, as part of a national tour of VA facilities, and said much of the scheduling problems were due to staff shortages.
“It should not take so darn long to hire someone,” Gibson said. “We need to make sure we’re talking to staff more frequently and understanding their needs. The employees here truly care.”
There are currently four open federal investigations into whistleblower retaliation at the hospital.
In Columbia, S.C., the William Jennings Bryan Dorn veterans hospital reported 13 serious mistakes in patient care during fiscal year 2013. There have been six total deaths since 1999 due to delayed cancer screenings, according to the VA report.
A February report by the VA Inspector General found the Dorn hospital faced staffing and equipment shortages that led to delays. The report also noted that Dorn ranked 127th out of 128 VA facilities in health care-associated infections during 2013.
In response, the Dorn VA hospital agreed said it was immediately taking steps to fix the problems.
The hospital reported four more “institutional disclosures” in the second quarter of fiscal year 2014.
The Dorn VA hospital did not return requests for comment.
Wrongful death payments
Another measure of how patients are killed or gravely injured due to VA mistakes is wrongful death payments.
The Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville has made more than $5 million in wrongful death payments in the years since 9/11, according to data from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Overall, the Department of Veterans Affairs has paid out more than $200 million in wrongful death payments since then. But it is also an incomplete look at the problem.
According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, “independent legal analysts say the nearly 1,000 wrongful death payments in the decade after 9/11 represent a small percentage of the veterans who have died because of malpractice by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Eddie Creed, a Seattle-area jazz musician, died in 2012 at a VA facility after a medical device malfunctioned and emptied a lethal dose of morphine into his body. The medical device had been recalled a month earlier.
Creed’s death certificate said he was killed by throat cancer.
The VA refused to release the details of an internal investigation into the accident to Creed’s family until after local news outlet KUOW investigated the incident.
The VA Inspector General found that the Dorn VA hospital failed to peer-review numerous patient deaths – many of them shortly after surgeries – that met the criteria for review. The hospital has since gone back and reviewed those deaths.
The Department of Veterans Affairs did not immediately return a request for comment for this article.
A woman in Kentucky is demanding answers from a local VA hospital after she claims her husband was erroneously pronounced dead.
According to Jennifer Dunn, doctors at the Lexington VA Hospital assured her last week that her husband, Danny Dunn, was no longer among the living.
The wife was given her husband’s time of death, but when she went into his room to bid a final farewell, she found Mr Dunn with a strong heart rate and blood pressure.
It all started last Thursday morning when 46-year-old Danny Dunn, an U.S. Army veteran, was discovered unconscious by his wife in their Central Kentucky home.
The former soldier was rushed to a hospital in Harrodsburg and was later airlifted to the VA Hospital in Lexington, where medical personnel pronounced him dead.
‘I said, “Are ya’ll sure he’s gone?” and they said, “There’s no pulse, ma’am, he’s gone,”‘ Jennifer Dunn told LEX18.
In accordance with her husband’s end-of-life wishes, Mrs Dunn made the decision to take him off life support, but she quickly discovered that Danny still had vital signs.
As of Monday, the 46-year-old veteran was very much alive, and according to his wife, apparently growing stronger.
‘He squeezed my hand when I asked him to,’ she said. ‘He opened his eyes when I asked him to. And he grabbed my hand.’
The Dunn family now want the ailing husband and father transferred to another hospital for treatment.
The VA facility in Lexington released a general statement to the local TV station, which read in part: ‘Veterans can have confidence that our staff of dedicated and professional providers is committed to working with them and their families to honor their wishes and support their needs.’
But the Dunns are far from satisfied with the hospital’s response to the near-fatal blunder.
‘They said his soul was gone and that he wasn’t living no more,’ said Dunn’s son, Tyler. ‘That he was gone long before we got him there… I mean we’re just looking for answers and they won’t give us any.’
This case is yet another black eye for the beleaguered VA system, which has faced public scrutiny in connection to explosive allegations of poor – and at times non-existent – medical care offered to servicemen and women.
The VA’s inspector general has confirmed that at least 35 veterans died while awaiting appointments at the agency’s Phoenix medical center alone.
The resulting election-year firestorm forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign in May. A half-dozen other VA officials have resigned or retired since then.
More than 8million of the nation’s 21million veterans are now enrolled in VA health care, although only about 6.5million seek VA treatment every year.
It was the line from The Godfather that will never be forgotten: “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.” The Chicago thugocracy of Barack Hussein Obama took that tactic with health insurance companies to make them swallow Obamacare in the first place, and is now quietly bribing them to “postpone” rate hikes scheduled to come out right before the midterms.
According to Forbes.com, ” Hidden in the midst of a 436-page regulatory update, and written in pure bureaucratese, the Department of Health and Human Services asked that insurance companies limit the looming premium increases for 2015 health plans. But don’t worry, HHS hinted: we’ll bail you out on the taxpayer’s dime if you lose money. No wonder there wasn’t a press release. The White House is playing politics with Americans’ health care – and they’re bribing health insurance companies to play along.”
Ok, let me clarify: the Obama administration has sneaked in a regulatory rule update asking health insurance companies not to do their job accurately if it means higher insurance premiums. After all Obama – aka Vito Corleone – stated Obamacare would bring about an average reduction of $2500 to healthcare premiums. Now, here is the offer the insurance companies can’t refuse: “even if you’re losing money, we’ll square it away for you” – with taxpayer dollars of course.
So in the long run, the hard-working American middle-income family gets screwed either way! Either they’ll have to pay higher premiums or pay the government through higher taxes – such as Obama’s desired higher gas taxes – in order to compensate the insurance companies. And here we thought Obama REALLY didn’t like those insurance companies.
Now, silly me, I thought bribery was a felony offense. Oops, there I go again using logic and common sense when assessing the Obama administration – heck, they’re having problems with computer hard drives, bribery is just par for the course.
And to think the Washington Post just gave President Obama three more “pinocchios” for lying. Nah, none of this matters – it’s certainly not “impeachable.” It’s just liberal progressive socialist politics as usual – fear, intimidation, coercion, lies and deception. Can you imagine what would be happening if this were a revelation occurring under a Republican president?
But be careful, you don’t want to be accused of racial animus because you’re questioning the president’s bribery policy. And I don’t think the U.S. Department of Justice will be investigating this, do you?
Why is all of this happening now? Why it’s simple. There’s an election coming in November 2014 and the last thing Obama, his personal consigliere Valerie Jarrett and the Democrats want is for 2015 healthcare insurance premium increases to be announced in September. And Obama accuses everyone else of playing politics.
As Forbes reports, “typically, insurance companies release their premium rates between summer and early fall – i.e., right before voters cast their ballots in November. If premiums skyrocket—which looks increasingly likely – then voters won’t look too kindly on Senators and Representatives who voted for Obamacare and created this problem. Hence the White House’s desperate damage control. It almost worked: No one noticed when the regulations were first released. In fact, it took days for any news outlet to find the language and then translate it into readable English. TownHall.com figured it out first. The Los Angeles Times then reported that “hold[ing] down premium increases for next year” is a “top priority” for President Obama since “rates will be announced ahead of this fall’s congressional elections.” Wow, give the LA Times a Scooby Snack for getting that one right!
Forbes says “even if the healthcare insurance industry doesn’t want to play along, it’s still in these companies’ best interests to assent to the administration’s “request.” Under Obamacare, insurers are so heavily regulated that they have to play nice with the bureaucrats who call the shots. The president isn’t the only government official who carries a big stick. If insurance companies don’t give in, regulators have powerful ways to make life hard for them. A shrewd CEO doesn’t need to look far to see what might happen if his company opts out. This administration already has a reputation for strong-arming dissenting businesses in other industries.”
Don’t believe how bad it could be? Just ask the coal industry and the small community banks. Of course, this will once again be dismissed and the White House may still get away with its attempted sleight of hand. Technically, the regulations don’t force health insurance companies to hold down their premium increases. But the White House isn’t asking nicely. Does it ever?
If the GOP can awake from its stupor and acknowledge the other side doesn’t play nice, perhaps they’ll start winning elections. This is the politics of Moose and Rocco, and exactly what Americans consented to when they voted to have Chicago come to Washington D.C.
P.S. Hillary is from Chicago too.
A former Deputy Chief of Veterans Claims in the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs pleaded guilty Monday to extortion in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain over $1.4 million in veterans benefits.
The plea agreement was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Kim R. Lampkins of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.
In January 2011, U.S. Army veteran David Clark, age 67, of Hydes, Maryland, retired from the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs as the deputy chief for veterans claims. Clark’s duties included submitting claims and documentation on behalf of veterans in Maryland who appointed the MDVA to represent them in obtaining federal benefits from the VA. Clark also submitted documents to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation in support of veterans’ applications for property tax waivers.
According to his plea agreement, while serving at Deputy Chief of Claims, Clark fraudulently obtained VA compensation for himself and at least 17 others, by submitting false documents to the VA purporting to show that the claimants had been diagnosed with diabetes, and in some cases, that the claimant had served in Vietnam when they had not. The claimants paid Clark half of the retroactive lump sum payment they received in cash or some other amount of cash. These payments to Clark were made in unmarked envelopes, at MDVA offices in Bel Air; at the Fallon Federal Building in Baltimore; and at other locations.
In support of these claims, Clark submitted fake letters from doctors purportedly treating the veterans, which falsely stated that the claimants suffered from Type II diabetes. Clark used the names and addresses of real doctors who were unaware of his conduct. Each letter stated that the diagnosis of Type II diabetes had been made a year or more prior to the date of the letter, which entitled each claimant to a retroactive lump-sum payment. The letters also stated that the claimants were currently taking insulin, which increased the amount of compensation the VA paid the claimant.
Clark created counterfeit versions of a Defense Department form for himself and five others, which falsely stated that each had served in Vietnam. These forms also falsely stated that these individuals had received various awards and decorations for the Vietnam service, including that Clark himself had been awarded the Purple Heart Medal. These documents were submitted to the VA to provide false evidence that they qualified for compensation benefits for diabetes.
Clark also submitted false certifications to the SDAT, on behalf of claimants that owned homes in Maryland, that the filers were entitled to a property tax waiver due to a service-connected disability.
The false claims cost the government $1,151,219 and the loss from the property tax evasion is $255,555, for a total loss of $1,407,134, officials said.
Clark faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Clark has agreed to forfeit $1,407,134.
A sentencing date is scheduled for Nov. 17.
Eight other veterans have previously pleaded guilty to paying Clark cash to submit false documentation to receive VA benefits:
* John Bratcher, 56, of Conowingo, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force
* Richard Genco, 71, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Navy
* Paul Heard, 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Navy
* George Kulla, 68, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Army
* Sandra Tyree, 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former employee of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
* Kenneth Webster, 68, of Pasadena, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a former police officer with AMTRAK
* Raymond Sadler, 63, of Middle River, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps
* Kenneth Williams, age 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Trouble is brewing in Washington as those who still consider legitimate the national healthcare takeover known as Obamacare try to figure out which enrollees are even eligible for coverage. A new report issued by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) admits that nearly 1.3 million Obamacare enrollees, or about 16 percent of the overall total, cannot be verified for legal status in the U.S. – in other words, most, if not all, of them are illegal immigrants rather than American citizens.
The shocking figures can be found on page 11 of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, entitled Marketplaces Faced Early Challenges Resolving Inconsistencies with Applicant Data. According to the figures, 1,295,571 “inconsistencies” – this is a politically correct way of implying missing or fraudulent data – found on Obamacare applications involved issues of citizenship, national status or lawful presence in the U.S., meaning applicants did not or could not verify this important information.
“The Federal marketplace was generally incapable of resolving most inconsistencies,” admits the report, noting that a large percentage of these faulty applications will likely never be resolved, at least not until the eligibility verification system becomes operable. “Without the ability to resolve inconsistencies in an applicant’s eligibility data, the marketplace cannot ensure that an applicant meets each of the eligibility requirements for enrollment in a [Qualified Health Plan] and when applicable, eligibility for insurance affordability programs.”
Nearly Half Of Total Obamacare Enrollees Cannot Be Verified As Eligible
What this implies is that the entire Obamacare program is nothing but a giant free-for-all, with absolutely no checks or balances in place to ensure that abuse and fraud don’t run rampant. Between abnormalities with income, employment verification and legal status in the U.S., it appears as though the bulk of Obamacare enrollees are either criminals, deadbeats or illegal aliens who don’t even belong in the country.
Of the roughly 8 million applicants who have signed up for Obamacare as of this writing, nearly 3 million of them cannot be verified by the current system as eligible, according to the HHS. And at this point in time, there is no way to ever verify them, as admitted by the Inspector General, further proving the massive swindle that has been levied on the American people by the Usurper-in-Chief who, ironically, has his own eligibility inconsistencies.
Four State-Run Exchanges Admit They Have No Way Of Verifying If Obamacare Enrollees Are Legal Citizens
Beyond the federal debacle, at least four state-run Obamacare exchanges are also incapable of verifying applicant eligibility. The HHS report explains that four of the 15 state marketplaces – Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont – haven’t figure out a way to resolve their “inconsistencies,” either. Much of this is due to their enrollment systems never having been designed with the capacity to verify applicants, a major oversight (or, perhaps, a deliberate design flaw).
Three other states – Hawaii, Colorado and Minnesota – have also had problems with inconsistencies. But these states sloughed the mess onto their state Medicaid offices, which are now having to individually verify each application by hand.
“One year ago, conservatives warned that the Obama administration’s decision to use the so-called ‘honor system’ for income eligibility was merely a backdoor way to get as many individuals on the public dole as possible,” wrote Wynton Hall for Breitbart about the ongoing dilemma. “The Office of Inspector General determined that ‘the federal marketplace was generally incapable of resolving most inconsistencies.’”
Thousands of Connecticut Obamacare customers are facing coverage uncertainty after computer glitches estimated incorrect subsidies or randomly dropped them from their health plans without warning – even though they’d paid premiums.
About 3,900 customers of Access Health CT, the state-run Obamacare exchange that has been one of the more successful health care marketplaces thus far, were incorrectly told they qualified for Medicaid due to a computer glitch, The Hartford Courant reports. Other customers received bills from their insurance companies that displayed a different amount than they’d agreed to on the exchange website – and at least 903 customers were unceremoniously kicked off their coverage without warning.
The problems were caused by faulty 834 insurer forms, which caused significant problems at the federal exchange website HealthCare.gov as well. The forms detail the amount of premium tax credits customers qualify for. The “system error” in the 834 forms was discovered on July 1, CEO Kevin Counihan said after state Republicans inquired about customer complaints over dropped coverage.
Some of the customers received paperwork and made premium payments, but have somehow lost their coverage anyway, WTNH reports. Others were told to wait for further paperwork to fill out before their health plans could be activated, but never received the extra forms.
One customer described her frustration with trying to actually access the coverage she purchased for her son.
“Well May comes along when it was supposed to start and I start saying, ‘We don’t have a card, he needs a card, can you send us a card,’ and they still didn’t tell me there was an issue until he went to a walk-in clinic at the end of May and found out he had no coverage,” said Diane Nadeau.
The exchange said Nadeau’s son was dropped from his plan for lack of payment, but Nadeau insisted that despite repeated attempts to get a bill for the exchange plan her son signed up for, no one ever answered her.
“I’ve been calling you like 20 times to find out where the bill is, how much it is, and how we can make a payment to you,” Nadeau charged.
After finally reaching state officials, Nadeau was told that if she made a payment the very same day, her son would have coverage July 1 – two months after his health insurance was supposed to begin.
“This is going to be bumpy,” Kevin Counihan said. “There are going to be some glitches and, you know, big surprise, we got them and you know what guys, we’re going to get more.”
Counihan said the problems are temporary and that, despite customers’ reports, their coverage will be restored.
“I say temporarily with great deliberation, because they are not losing their coverage,” Counihan said.
The exchange will begin contacting customers who did not receive paperwork or were dropped from their coverage beginning July 11, according to WTNH. Officials hope to have a permanent fix to the glitch by July 18.
The Memphis VA Medical Center has yet another medical records backlog, The Daily Caller has learned – this one estimated at three to five months long.
According to the whistleblower, who provided the photo of this second set of medical records piling up at the Memphis VA Medical Center, the individual responsible for scanning in these records is Carnell Clark, an employee at the facility who is currently busy helping to catch up on a backlog TheDC exposed in June.
Sandra Glover, the spokeswoman for the Veteran Integrated Services Network 9, told TheDC the records are for “Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ‘flow sheets,’ also referred to as ‘work sheets,’ which contain real-time vital sign, input/output, and other pertinent information during the time a patient is in the ICU.” Veteran Integrated Services Network 9 includes the Memphis facility.
According to a March 2014 Office of Special Counsel (OSC) complaint filed by another employee of the Memphis VA, the hospital has known about this problem – and an alleged cover-up – since at least that time.
“Two and a half months of inpatient stay flow sheets are missing and so far unaccounted for,” the complaint reads. “There are investigations going on and people are grouping up against each other. Even cover-ups are happening.”
In another portion of the OSC complaint, the employee accuses Clark of routinely not showing up for work, and accused then-head of Medical Records Department Brenda Jackson and her boss, David Huhman, of looking the other way.
“The employees have reported the allegation of theft of time (by Mr. Carnell Clark) to the business office chief Mr. David Huhman and the supervisor Brenda Jackson” The complaint reads. “The two allegations are serious, and it appears that nothing is going to be done about it.”
According to the whistleblower who supplied the photo, Jackson was replaced as head of the Medical Records Department at around that time. She was replaced because of an unrelated Equal Employment Opportunity complaint that was filed against her.
Jackson now works in a different department in the hospital, the whistleblower said.
In June, TheDC was supplied with a photo of another medical records backlog – that one was of medical records for outsourced medical procedures.
The new supervisor of the Medical Records Department is Rebecca England, and according to the whistleblower, England has approved overtime for Clark so he could help catch the department up on the other backlog.
According to the whistleblower, England took over after her position as the compliance officer was phased out.
The whistleblower said that England hasn’t been certified in medical records, and has no prior experience in medical records.
Glover said she hasn’t seen the OSC complaint, and said the records in question were for historical documentation purposes and didn’t affect patient care.
“Upon discharge from the ICU, the hard copy flow sheets are removed from the unit, taken to the appropriate file room, and scanned into the patient record for historical documentation purposes,” Glover said. “At no point do flow sheets have any impact on future or follow up care. They are used to aid in a patient’s care while still active on the Intensive Care Unit. Registered nurses enter summary data from the flow sheets into each patient’s computerized patient record system (CPRS) daily at the end of their shift while the patient is still on the unit.”
Glover said that the full patient history is available to any doctor upon request, if it hasn’t already been scanned into the system.
“The scanning process essentially duplicates the information with the actual forms that the nurse has already summarized and entered.”
TheDC’s whistleblower says Glover’s suggestion that the backlog isn’t affecting future patient care is spin, because doctors routinely rely on a patient’s entire medical history, including medical history generated in the ICU.
The whistleblower estimated that this backlog is three to five months.
A recent Veteran Administration Office of Inspector General report found that average wait times for initial appointments at the Memphis VA Medical Center are among the worst in the country, at more than fifty days.
TheDC also exposed that the same facility closed down an aqua therapy pool in 2011 – months after approving more than $1 million in bonuses.
The whistleblower asked to remain anonymous because they remain employed by the facility. TheDC’s whistleblower is the individual responsible for initially tipping TheDC off to the previous stories, both of which were eventually independently verified by the Memphis VA Medical Center.
For many, it is difficult to decide whether Barack Obama is intentionally trying to destroy the United States or that he is doing so as a consequence of some type of ideology-induced stupidity.
The damage wrought through the implementation of his absurd and impractical liberal “solutions” to national problems is readily evident.
When Barack Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 the national debt of the United States was $10,626,877,048,913. As of Jun 26, 2014, the debt was $17,512,592,730,102.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2007 on the eve of the recession, there were 146.6 million Americans working. Today, after six years of the Obama Administration, there are 145.8 million Americans in jobs, 800,000 below the previous peak. Since Obama came into office in 2009, 7.2 million people have left the workforce, making the true unemployment rate 8.3 percent, not 6.1 percent. Median household income is down almost $2,300 from what it was when Obama took office. Real wages are lower than they were in 1999. Growth in the first quarter of this year was a negative 2.9%, the biggest downward revision from the agency’s second GDP estimate since records began in 1976.
In April, prior to the present massive and growing surge in illegal minor immigration, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said Obama has created an “open borders” situation by failing to enforce U.S. immigration law. One could fairly conclude that the current crisis was a deliberate policy decision because the Obama indicated that he would expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that offers amnesty for illegal immigrant children and provides an incentive for exactly the type of mass illegal invasion we are witnessing on our southern border.
There should be little doubt that Obama’s open borders policy is meant to fundamentally transform the country’s demographics, produce millions of additional Democratic voters and welfare recipients and permanently undermine the national security of the United States.
The ATF “Fast and Furious” scheme, likely designed to erode Second Amendment rights, allowed weapons from the U.S. to “walk” across the border into the hands of Mexican drug dealers. The ATF lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which were used in crimes, including the December 2010 killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Obama’s IRS targeted his perceived political enemies, conservative and pro-Israel groups, prior to the 2012 election. Questions are being raised about why this occurred, who ordered it, whether there was any White House involvement and whether there was an initial effort to hide who knew about the targeting and when. Obama apparently lied when he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in IRS activities.
The Obama administration knew about allegations of secret waiting lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as early as 2010, although, on May 19, 2014, White House spokesman claimed Obama learned about the scandal only recently through press reports.
The unfolding sectarian violence in Iraq is just the latest crisis where the Obama administration seemingly has been caught off guard. From the Veterans Affairs scandal to Russia’s swift annexation of Crimea, news of the world somehow keeps taking Obama and his team by surprise. Or are they just lying to camouflage flawed or failed policies, which have harmed the United States?
The attack on our “consulate” in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 was perhaps the most egregious of Obama’s many foreign policy failures because four Americans needlessly died due to a failure to provide adequate protection both before and during the attack.
Obama falsely blamed an internet video as the cause of the attack to hide the truth: the resurgence of jihadists in Muslim Brotherhood-governed Egypt, the continuing demand for the Blind Sheikh’s release (which underscored the jihadists’ influence), and the very real danger that jihadists would attack the embassy (which demonstrated that al-Qaeda was anything but “decimated”).
It is likely that a clandestine operation supplying weapons through Turkey to the Syrian rebels was being run out of Benghazi. Efforts were made not to draw attention to what was happening there. That could explain why local militias were paid to provide security, why requests for increased security were denied and why the US military was either unprepared to respond or told not to do so.
A Benghazi cover-up may have also prevented a thorough examination of the possible passivity or complicity of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood government in the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi and the potentially dangerous consequences of arming Islamic factions in Syria over which the US has little control, where the weapons we supplied may someday be used against us.
It should be obvious that Obama lied about Benghazi, he lied about Obamacare, the IRS, the VA scandal and in countless other instances.
Nevertheless, the liberal media remain willfully ignorant, will not report the truth and continue to protect Obama, regardless of the costs to the country.
Obama will survive in office until public awareness of his administration’s treachery matches its level of incompetence and exceeds the media’s capacity to tolerate corruption.
Jimmy Carter made mistakes. Barack Obama, a creator of crises, practices deceit and the willful betrayal of trust.
It does matter whether the damage inflicted upon our country results from ineptitude or premeditation.
It is ideology-induced treachery.
Longer, and I mean LOOONNNGGER waits in the emergency room. Via Fritz
Hey, this wasn’t supposed to happen! Long wait times in ERs due to ObamaCare
Wait times for seeing doctors have become an issue even outside the VA, which was a totally predictable outcome of ObamaCare. What wasn’t predicted was that the impact on wait times would be seen in emergency rooms, since one of the arguments for ObamaCare was to shift patients out of ERs and into clinics with an expansion of coverage. One California television station reported on lengthening ER waits, and notes that the trade group for ER providers lays the blame on the new health-insurance system:
I guess we are all vets now, waiting, and waiting for medical care