By its own estimate, the government made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them – tax credits to families that didn’t qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary.
Congressional investigators say the figure could be even higher.
The Obama administration has reduced the amount of improper payments since they peaked in 2010. Still, estimates from federal agencies show that some are wasting big money at a time when Congress is squeezing agency budgets and looking to save more.
“Nobody knows exactly how much taxpayer money is wasted through improper payments, but the federal government’s own astounding estimate is more than half a trillion dollars over the past five years,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. “The fact is, improper payments are staggeringly high in programs designed to help those most in need – children, seniors and low-income families.”
Mica chairs the House Oversight subcommittee on government operations. The subcommittee is holding a hearing on improper payments Wednesday afternoon.
Each year, federal agencies are required to estimate the amount of improper payments they issue. They include overpayments, underpayments, payments to the wrong recipient and payments that were made without proper documentation.
Some improper payments are the result of fraud, while others are unintentional, caused by clerical errors or mistakes in awarding benefits without proper verification.
In 2013, federal agencies made $97 billion in overpayments, according to agency estimates. Underpayments totaled $9 billion.
The amount of improper payments has steadily dropped since 2010, when it peaked at $121 billion.
The Obama administration has stepped up efforts to measure improper payments, identify the cause and develop plans to reduce them, said Beth Cobert, deputy director of the White House budget office. Agencies recovered more than $22 billion in overpayments last year.
“We have strengthened accountability and transparency, saving the American people money while improving the fiscal responsibility of federal programs,” Cobert said in a statement ahead of Wednesday’s hearing. “We are pleased with this progress, but know that we have more work to do in this area.”
However, a new report by the Government Accountability Office questions the accuracy of agency estimates, suggesting that the real tally could be higher. The GAO is the investigative arm of Congress.
“The federal government is unable to determine the full extent to which improper payments occur and reasonably assure that appropriate actions are taken to reduce them,” Beryl H. Davis, director of financial management at the GAO, said in prepared testimony for Wednesday’s hearing.
Davis said some agencies don’t develop estimates for programs that could be susceptible to improper payments. For example, the Health and Human Services Department says it cannot force states to help it develop estimates for the cash welfare program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The program is administered by the states.
The largest sources of improper payments are government health care programs, according to agency estimates. Medicare’s various health insurance programs for older Americans accounted for $50 billion in improper payments in the 2013 budget year, far exceeding any other program.
Most of the payments were deemed improper because they were issued without proper documentation, said Shantanu Agrawal, a deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In some cases, the paperwork didn’t verify that services were medically necessary.
“Payments deemed `improper’ under these circumstances tend to be the result of documentation and coding errors made by the provider as opposed to payments made for inappropriate claims,” Agrawal said in prepared testimony for Wednesday’s hearing.
Among other programs with large amounts of improper payments:
- The earned income tax credit, which provides payments to the working poor in the form of tax refunds. Last year, improper payments totaled $14.5 billion. That’s 24 percent of all payments under the program.
The EITC is one of the largest anti-poverty programs in the U.S., providing $60.3 billion in payments last year. Eligibility depends on income and family size, making it complicated to apply for the credit – and difficult to enforce, said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
“EITC eligibility depends on items that the IRS cannot readily verify through third-party information reporting, including marital status and the relationship and residency of children,” Koskinen told a House committee in May. “In addition, the eligible population for the EITC shifts by approximately one-third each year, making it difficult for the IRS to use prior-year data to assist in validating compliance.”
- Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor. Last year, improper payments totaled $14.4 billion.
Medicaid, which is run jointly by the federal government and the states, has seen a steady decline in improper payments since 2010, when they peaked at $23 billion.
The program is expanding under President Barack Obama’s health law.
- Unemployment insurance, a joint federal-state program that provides temporary benefits to laid-off workers. Amount of improper payments last year: $6.2 billion, or 9 percent of all payments.
The Labor Department said most overpayments went to people who continued to get benefits after returning to work, or who didn’t meet state requirements to look for work while they were unemployed. Others were ineligible for benefits because they voluntarily quit their jobs or were fired.
- Supplemental Security Income, a disability program for the poor run by the Social Security Administration. Amount of improper payments: $4.3 billion, or 8 percent of all payments.
Social Security’s much larger retirement and disability programs issued $2.4 billion in improper payments, according to agency estimates. Those programs provided more than $770 billion in benefits, so improper payments accounted for less than 1 percent.
It’s an Obama world.
The US military is spending as much as $150 per gallon of jet fuel from algal sources rather than $2.88 a gallon for conventional jet fuel.
The Washington Times reported:
Last month, a Government Accountability Office report found that the military was spending as much as $150 a gallon on alternative jet fuel derived from algal oil rather than $2.88 a gallon for conventional jet fuel.
“Why should the Defense Department be paying for solar panels? Why should defense be paying for biorefineries? Those are not defense items. We have a Department of Energy that’s supposed to be doing that stuff. The disarming of America is not just what he’s been doing in cuts or delays like the F-35s, but less obvious is what he’s puts in [the defense budget] that we’re spending money on that should be spent on defense as opposed to his agenda.
“Now, [the president’s] true to his agenda, and you may agree with it and that’s fine. I don’t,” Mr. Inhofe said.
Meanwhile, veterans are dying before they can get help from the VA.
The IRS under the Obama Administration has spent over $4 billion on contracts labeled under information technology and software despite IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifying this week that budgetary restraints prevented the agency from spending $10 million to save and store emails.
Koskinen said “declining budget resources” at the IRS caused the agency decided to reject spending the $10 million needed to ensure emails were properly secured.
A review of IRS spending by the Free Beacon shows the agency has spent a massive amount on what it labeled as IT/software and data processing contracts in the past five fiscal years. The official government’s spending website shows the IRS spent $4.4 billion during this time period.
A total of 12,543 contracts were awarded under this product code.
Records show the IRS under President George Bush spent a total of $5.3 billion in eight years for the same contractive services. If the IRS spending trends continue as they have thus far, the IRS under Obama is on track to far exceed what was spent during the Bush presidency.
Koskinen also said “continuing financial constraints have meant that this fiscal year, the IRS is spending minimal amounts supporting its $1 billion IT infrastructure.” Records show the agency has already spent $642 million on IT contracts this fiscal year.
The IRS commissioner said Lois Lerner’s emails could not be retrieved due to a hard drive crash. However, records show his agency has spent tens of millions of dollars in contracts with at least two companies for information retrieval systems and a forensics program touted as securing and maintaining the integrity of data.
The IRS contracted with Unisys Corporation for $11.8 million, which included $4 million for “critical operation and maintenance of the files informational retrieval system” and $4.9 million for what the contract describes as “critical-exercise files information retrieval system (Exfirs) Operations and Maintenance.”
The agency also awarded a total contract worth $5.9 million to Immixtechnology Inc. in 2010 for what was described as an “encase enterprise forensics suite.”
The company website says the “EnCase® platform provides the foundation for government, corporate and law enforcement organizations to conduct thorough and effective computer investigations of any kind, such as intellectual property theft, incident response, compliance auditing and responding to eDiscovery requests – all while maintaining the forensic integrity of the data.”
The Free Beacon found other government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have hired Immixtechnology for its expertise.
Records show several IT contracts awarded run in the tens of millions of dollars. They include a $47 million contract for an IBM ESSO order that was signed in December 2013 and a $44 million contract for what was described as “critical functions/IBM software subscription.” Another contract for $27.6 million was awarded for IT/telecom, and still another contract awarded for IT for $58.5 million.
The IRS also contracted with Chicago-based Softchoice Corporation for ADP software; that contract amounted to $108 million. Records show the contract was signed in March of 2010 and completed in December 2012 – the time frame during which Lerner’s emails were lost.
Softchoice is a leader in electronic storage. This year the company was named as “Top US Storage Growth Partner of the Year.”
The IRS explains on its website requirements for taxpayers to maintain records, including electronic records – which includes “databases, saved files, email, instant messages, faxes, and voice messages.”
“It’s important to note that the same timeframes that apply for keeping paper records apply to electronic records. Generally, that’s until the statute of limitations for the tax return the records relate to has expired. It’s normally three years from the due date of the return, or the date the return was filed – whichever is later,” the IRS states.
The federal government paid out $14.4 billion in fraudulent reimbursements through Medicaid last year, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
………………………………….Medicare and Medicaid chief Marilyn Tavenner
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) highlighted a recent GAO report on the lack of oversight within Medicaid’s managed care organizations (MCOs) delivery system, which accounts for roughly $4 billion in waste each year.
“Today’s report is particularly troubling given Obamacare expands this broken program without substantial reforms to protect patients and taxpayers,” Hatch said in a statement Wednesday. “CMS is responsible for safeguarding the billions of dollars it receives from hard-working American taxpayers, and I strongly urge [CMS] Administrator [Marilyn] Tavenner to implement the changes recommended by GAO to improve CMS oversight of MCO payments.”
“This report underscores the need for Medicaid reform in order to ensure that scarce tax dollars are used properly,” he said.
Managed care organizations, in which Medicaid beneficiaries get the majority of their care through an organization under contract with their state, are especially vulnerable to fraud since neither federal nor state governments are “well positioned to identify improper payments,” the GAO said.
“The size and diversity of the Medicaid program make it particularly vulnerable to improper payments – including payments made for treatments or services that were not covered by program rules, that were not medically necessary, or that were billed for but never provided,” the report said.
Nearly 50 million people currently receive benefits through MCOs. While MCO payments are still overshadowed by fee-for-service payments (FFS) – the traditional method where health care providers are paid for each service – individuals receiving their care through MCOs are “growing at a faster rate.”
State officials told the GAO that they have “not begun to closely examine program integrity in Medicaid managed care.” While the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) requires states to audit their payments according to their MCO contracts, states are not required to audit the “appropriateness of these payments.”
The GAO warned that the problem would worsen under Obamacare, which has expanded Medicaid programs in many states.
“Improving federal and state efforts to strengthen Medicaid managed care program integrity takes on greater urgency as states that choose to expand their Medicaid programs under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are likely to do so with managed care arrangements, and will receive a 100 percent federal match for newly eligible individuals from 2014 through 2016,” the report said.
“Unless CMS takes a larger role in holding states accountable, and provides guidance and support to states to ensure adequate program integrity efforts in Medicaid managed care, the gap between state and federal efforts to monitor managed care program integrity will leave a growing portion of federal Medicaid dollars vulnerable to improper payments,” it said.
Overall, Medicaid covered 71.7 million Americans in fiscal year 2013, totaling $431.1 billion, an estimated $14.4 billion of which were improper payments.
Update to this story.
The company, Serco, is paid out by the government at least in part based on number of employees they hire, so it is in their interests to hire as many people as they can, who end up doing nothing. Ech employee gets $17/hour, and you have to know that Serco gets much more than that per employee, and meanwhile, we are paying out 1.2 billion dollars for this…
Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) expressed concern Wednesday over new claims made by an employee at a Wentzville company in receipt of a massive government contract.
The former employee has alleged that the company she worked for provided no work for employees, instead forcing them to pretend as if they were working for the sake of keeping up appearances.
Paula Bujewski was employed by Cognosante for two months. The company shared the same space as Serco. Cognosante worked with Serco to process healthcare applications. Serco had a $1.2 billion contract.
She shared experience with KMOV, “What I deducted from the time I was there is that somebody has figured out how to make a lot of money off this deal to do nothing.”
An eye-opening report from KMOV about an Obamacare contractor using taxpayer dollars to pay their employees to spend all day doing nothing:
“A billion dollar government contract involving hundreds of local workers at an Obamacare processing center… But now employees on the inside are stepping forward, asking, Is this why we’re broke? Some of them claim to spend most of their day doing nothing,” reports a local St. Louis reporter.
The contractor is called Serco and local reporter discovered that, despite there not being any work to be done, the government contractor is still hiring.
“The company is still hiring,” says a local reporter. “A current employee wonders why… After providing proof of employment, this Serco employee agreed to speak through the phone with their voice altered. The employee says hundreds of employees spend much of the day staring at computer screens, with little or no work to do.”
The reporter asks the employee, “Are there some days where a data entry person may not process one single application?”
“There are weeks when a data entry person would not process an application,” the employee responds.
The reporter explains, “The facility is one of three Serco locations that process paper applications, people seeking to qualify for insurance.”
“It’s no secret, the rollout for the website was a mess. But now that the website is running, this employee says the paper applications are trickling in less and less. Our employee doesn’t appear to be the only one complaining. On April 16, a person claiming to be a former Serco employee posted this online, ‘This place is a JOKE. There’s nothing to do-NO WORK.’”
The reporter adds, “Our employee says every person who works here is happy to have a job, and wants to work hard. But frustration is mounting. Serco’s contract is worth upwards of $1.2 billion.”
The anonymous employee says the contract gets paid by the federal government per employee hired. Which is why it’s in their interest to have a bunch of employees sitting around all day doing nothing.
Federal and state-run insurance exchanges on average spent $922 per enrollee to sign up people for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report by a Washington class-action law firm.
The report calculates the health law’s federal and state-run insurance exchanges spent more than $7.39 billion through the March 31 open-enrollment deadline.
The report came from Jay Angoff, a partner with Mehri & Skalet PLLC who previously worked for the Health and Human Services Department, and cited data from HHS and the Congressional Research Service.
States that opted to set up their own exchanges under the health law known as Obamacare paid an average $1,503 per enrollee. The federal exchange operating in 36 states averaged $647 in costs per enrollee, the report said.
Ingrid Babri, an associate at the firm and co-author of the report, said she was surprised such data had not been calculated sooner. “It’s important for policy makers to know how much it costs each state to insure people,” she said.
The five jurisdictions with the highest cost-per-enrollee costs were Hawaii ($23,899), District of Columbia ($12,467), North Dakota ($7,089), Delaware ($6,825) and Wyoming ($6,323), the report said. The District yesterday voted to apply a new tax on all health-related insurance products to help pay for its Obamacare exchange.
Alyene Senger, a health research associate at The Heritage Foundation, said the latest federal data from late April shows the government has sent at least $5 billion to states to help build state health exchanges.
“What’s unclear is if the federal government will recoup any of the millions of taxpayer dollars that have been wasted on botched state exchanges such as those in Oregon, Maryland and Massachusetts,” she said. “It’s also uncertain how much more it will cost to keep the state exchanges going or to transfer the systems onto the federal exchange.”
ARE YOU A RACIST? A FRANK CONVERSATION
THE BIN LADEN EFFECT: HOW NANCY PELOSI AND STEPHEN COLBERT LEARNED TO LOVE SEAL TEAM SIX
OBAMACARE: LIES OR CRAP?
IMAGINE THERE’S NO BORDER
TALKING CRAP II: THIS TIME IT’S CRAP
BUMPER STICKER POLICE
YOU TOO CAN BE A MAINSTREAM MEDIA REPORTER
THE EXTREMISTS ARE COMING!
INTERNATIONAL MEN’S DAY
STOP THE HATE!
LIBERALISM EXPOSED: BEYOND THE ELITIST, PREENING, AMERICA-HATING STEREOTYPES
THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF ABORTION
WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH AMERICA?
It’s an Obama world.
And it’s likely to get worse…
Obamacare will kill off at least two percent of the US full-time workforce.
Obamacare is accelerating the US towards a part-time nation.
Even far left Think Progress reported today that most of the jobs added since the recession are low paying jobs.
Six years after the Great Recession began, job growth has returned to is original peak level. But the kinds of jobs that have been added don’t pay well. Low-wage jobs have accounted for most of the employment growth even though they weren’t the majority of jobs lost during the recession, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
Four years into the recovery, low-wage industries have accounted for 44 percent of job growth, but they only made up 22 percent of the losses during the recession. These jobs pay between $9.48 and $13.33 an hour – even that higher wage is only about $27,000 a year. At the same time, mid-wage industries saw 37 percent of the job losses but have only made up about a quarter of employment growth. High-wage industries accounted for 41 percent of the losses but have only seen 30 percent of the recovery’s gains. In all, low-wage industries employ 1.85 million more people than when the recession began, while the other two groups have lost nearly 2 million jobs.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has improperly paid millions of dollars to Medicare Advantage organizations on behalf of illegal immigrants.
In a new report released Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) revealed that for calendar years 2010 through 2012, CMS provided $26.2 million in improper payments to Medicare Advantage organizations for 1,600 “unlawfully present beneficiaries” – or nearly $16,375 per illegal immigrant.
According to the OIG, CMS did not have policies in place to notify the Medicare Advantage organizations about the legality of potential beneficiaries. Without such data, illegal immigrants were able to enroll with Medicare Advantage organizations.
“In contrast to its fee-for-service (FFS) program, CMS did not have policies and procedures to notify the MA organizations of the unlawful-presence information in its data systems. Had CMS provided this information to the MA organizations, they would have been able to prevent enrollment and to disenroll beneficiaries already enrolled,” the report reads. “CMS would then have been able to recoup any improper payments.”
Illegal immigrants are barred from obtaining federal health-care benefits. Last year, the OIG revealed that from 2009 to 2011, Medicare payments to health care providers for services rendered to illegal aliens totaled more than $91.6 million.
In its April report, OIG recommended that CMS recover the $26.2 million in improper payments on behalf of illegal immigrants, adopt policies to notify the organizations about unlawful-presence information, and recoup improper payments made after the audit period.
The OIG report noted that CMS partially agreed with the recommendations – concurring with OIG’s second recommendation, but said it was unable to agree to the specific OIG estimate because it said it could not confirm the amount.
How often have you heard a Democrat prattle on and on about how well Barack Obama has done with the economy, given the mess he inherited? Usually, it’s some version of, “Things are getting better, but the economy the President started with was so awful, so he’s done as well as anyone could expect.”
When Ronald Reagan took over from Jimmy Carter in ’81, things were actually worse economically compared to when Obama took over from George W. Bush in ’08.
Consider these three important comparisons of economic indicators, then and now:
- Unemployment was at 10.8% versus 7.7%
- Inflation (Consumer Price Index) was at 13.5% versus 2.7%
- Interest rates (prime rate) was at 21.5% versus 3.25%
In other words, Reagan inherited a bigger mess. Yet, there’s this chart of job growth:
Yes, you read that right: net job growth has declined under Obama. And by the end of the second year of their terms as President, economic growth under Reagan averaged 7.1% , under Obama an anemic 2.8%.
So, how did Reagan manage it? Across-the-board tax cuts, non-defense spending cuts, a restrained monetary supply, and deregulation.
What’s Obama done? Tax increases, spending increases, a massive money-supply increase through “quantitative easing,” and an explosive increase in regulations.
Game, set, and match to Ronald Reagan – and a sound, conservative economic policy.
As the Internal Revenue Service grapples with budget cuts, a newly reported audit reveals the federal tax collection agency doled out bonuses and other rewards to more than 2,800 workers who had conduct and tax-evasion issues.
The audit – issued March 21 by an IRS watchdog agency, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) – showed that between October 1, 2010 and December 31, 2012, the IRS gave out more than $2.8 million in monetary awards, 27,000 hours in time-off awards, and 175 other awards to employees who had tax compliance problems and other work issues.
“With few exceptions, the IRS does not consider tax compliance or other misconduct when issuing performance awards or most other types of awards,” TIGTA stated, noting the audit was part of new federal guidelines that require agencies to reduce spending on awards programs.
“Thus, while not specifically prohibited, providing awards to employees with conduct issues, especially those who fail to pay [f]ederal taxes, appears to create a conflict with the IRS’ charge of ensuring the integrity of system of tax administration,” the audit added.
Overall in fiscal year 2012, the IRS gave out $86 million in cash awards and almost 490,000 hours of time-off awards to 67,870 of its approximately 98,000 employees, the report found.
In a written statement to USA Today, David Krieg, the agency’s chief human capital officer, responded: “We take seriously our unique role as the nation’s tax administrator, and we will strive to implement a policy that protects the integrity of the tax administration system and the reputation of the service.”
While the audit revealed that the IRS, for the most part, complied with federal requirements to limit its awards spending, this issue is yet another eyesore for an agency that has been charged with corruption for targeting Tea Party groups and wasting $4.1 million in taxpayer funds on a lavish conference that included $64,000 in free “swag” for attendees.
The US State Department can’t explain how it spent billions of dollars worth of contract funds in areas throughout the world, according to a newly unveiled report by the department’s internal watchdog.
The Office of Inspector General explained in a March 20 “management alert” to department leaders that approximately $6 billion has gone unaccounted for over the past six years. The note said the number of missing documents “exposes the department to significant financial risk” and is a dangerous lack of oversight.
“It creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file,” the inspector general wrote. “It impairs the ability of the Department to take effective and timely action to protect is interests and, in turn, those of taxpayers.”
There is no indication that representatives within the Bureau of Administration’s Office of the Procurement Executive (A/OPE) fraudulently filed any of the missing contracts, only that State Department brass misplaced the necessary paperwork. The omissions are especially notable, though, because of similar memos that have noted budgetary oversights in the past.
In one instance, the State Department could not locate files regarding payments to contractors assisting US military forces in Iraq. That incident, one of the “repeated examples of poor contract file administration,” according to the inspector general, included contracts worth $2.1 billion.
An unrelated audit of the Bureau of African Affairs indicated the department could not supply the “complete contract administration files” for even one of the eight contracts, worth a total of nearly $35 million, under examination.
“The failure to maintain contract files adequately creates significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions,” the report noted.
While no proof of fraudulent payments was mentioned, the Office of Inspector General did warn that lax record-keeping standards does create the potential for abuse.
“OIG recommends that the Under Secretary for Management ensure that contracting officers and their supporting personnel, and A/OPE specialists conducting oversight visits, have resources sufficient to maintain adequate contract files in accordance with relevant regulations and policies,” the officials recommended.
The report also encouraged the State Department to hold employees accountable when they are found to have committed such infractions.
The State Department, which is responsible for a vast number of duties relating to international relations, has also announced that it will publish ambassador qualifications from now on. The Obama administration has come under fire because of the perception that not all newly appointed State Department ambassadors were up to the task of heading up US relations in other countries. The necessary “certificates of demonstrated competence” were previously only available to lawmakers, but will now be made available to the public, American Foreign Service Association President Robert Silverman told USA Today.
“We believe transparency of the nomination process is an important step,” he said Friday “We very much appreciate the efforts of the White House and State Department, and AFSA – as the voice of the Foreign service – looks forward to working to assure that our country is represented by the very best men and women at our diplomatic missions abroad.”
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is spending $398,213 on a project studying whether paying male Mexican sex workers for being free of sexually transmitted diseases will increase condom use.
The study, “Conditional Economic Incentives to Reduce HIV Risks: A Pilot in Mexico,” began in June 2011 and is funded through the end of May 2014.
“The working hypothesis is that a program with modest economic incentives to stay free of sexually transmitted infections (STI) can be implemented among MSW (male sex workers) to incentivize condom use and reduction of sex partners,” the abstract of the study says. “We hypothesize that CEI (conditional economic incentives) treatment groups will exhibit greater program participation and retention rates as compared to the control group.”
The study includes male sex workers in Mexico City, who first must attend a workshop on the benefits of condom use and “condom negotiation” before they are broken up into smaller groups.
According to the study abstract, one group of 100 individuals will “receive low incentive ($200 pesos/each time) only if they are free of STIs at months 6 and 12.”
Another group of 100 will receive high incentives “($500 pesos/each time) if they are free of STIs at months 6 and 12.”
The control group of 100 does not receive any money regardless if they are STI free or not.
Attempts by CNSNews.com to contact Project Leader Dr. Omar Galarraga of Brown University to discuss the study went unreturned.
However, some early results of Dr. Galarraga’s findings were recently published in The European Journal of Health Economics.
A Brown University article on the publication quotes Galarraga: ‘We’re trying to prevent HIV from spreading and we are trying to save money,’ said public health economist Omar Galarraga, assistant professor of health services policy and practice and lead author of the study published in the European Journal of Health Economics.”
“We want to make sure that every dollar spent has the greatest impact.”
“Through detailed questionnaires administered to 1,745 gay men 18-25 years of age, Galarraga and his colleagues in Mexico’s Institute for Public Health (INSP) found that at a rate of $288 a year, more than three-quarters of the men would attend monthly prevention talks, engage in testing for sexually transmitted infections, and pledge to stay free of STI’s with testing to verify that. To obtain a similar level of participation among the 5.1 percent of the sample who were male sex workers, the price was much lower: $156 a year.”
“The target population seems generally very well-disposed to participate in these types of programs at prices which are consistent with other social programs currently in place in Mexico for preventing other health risks,” Galarraga said.
When questioned about the goals of the study, NIH replied, “NIH research addresses the full spectrum of human health across all populations of Americans. Research into unhealthy human behaviors that are estimated to be the proximal cause of more than half of the disease burden in the U.S. will continue to be an important area of research supported by NIH.”
“Only by developing effective prevention and treatment strategies for health-injuring behaviors can we reduce the disease burden in the U.S. and thus, enhance health and lengthen life, which is the mission of the NIH.”
The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to spend over one trillion dollars in 2015 – but HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has never once testified before the Senate’s Budget Committee on either Obamacare’s costs or the president’s budget at large.
“The Department of Health and Human Services is projected to spend over $1 trillion in FY2015 under the president’s budget, and health care costs – which today comprise nearly 30 percent of all federal spending – are growing more rapidly than other areas of the budget, especially over the long-term. It would be good for members of the Committee to discuss these matters with Secretary Sebelius,” Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said on Monday, according to The Hill.
Sessions, a ranking member on the Budget Committee, has stridently criticized President Barack Obama’s health-care law and the high costs it imposes on Americans. Back in 2012, Sessions blasted a $17 trillion funding gap that came to light during a grilling session between Supreme Court justices and the law’s supporters. Long-term promises written into the law will squeeze $17 trillion out of taxpayers – not counting the existing shortfalls from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending, which brings the total to an eye-popping $99 trillion.
The U.S. produces only $15 trillion worth of goods and services each year.
“The bill has to be removed from the books because we don’t have the money,” Sessions said.
Exploding health care costs may impose restrictions on Obama’s second term wish list, which includes a top-down rewrite of U.S. immigration laws. Republicans, while expressing support for allowing 11 million illegal immigrations to become voting citizens, are reluctant to back bipartisan immigration reform because they don’t trust Obama to enforce existing laws.
Last March, Sessions worried that frontloading Obamacare with millions of foreign enrollees might tank entitlement programs and send costs spiraling out of control.
“The core legal and economic principle of immigration is that those seeking admission to a new country must be self-sufficient and contribute to the economic health of the nation,” Sessions said in a statement as the Senate voted down an amendment that would prohibit newly-legalized immigrants who broke immigration laws from receiving health-care benefits. “But, for years, the federal government has failed to enforce this law. This principle is even more urgent when dealing with those who have illegally entered the country.”
Meanwhile, health-care costs imposed by Obamacare continue to mount as the administration fails to track enrollees and unilaterally suspends requirements until after the 2014 midterm elections, which endanger the party’s hold on Congress.
Sebelius admitted that Obamacare premiums will increase in 2015 on Wednesday – but had no idea how many Obamacare enrollees had actually paid their premiums or previously had insurance.
“I think premiums are likely to go up, but go up at a slower pace,” Sebelius claimed at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing.
From the Washington Free Beacon:
Obama to Cut Key Reconnaissance Fleet By 25 Percent
Planes being used to monitor Ukraine crisis
By Adam Kredo | March 10, 2014
A key fleet of U.S. reconnaissance planes used to detect enemy aircraft in hostile settings will to be cut by 25 percent under President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget, according to multiple sources familiar with the budget proposal.
A fleet of 31 AWACs, or Airborne Warning and Control System planes, will be reduced to 24 by 2015 under Obama’s budget proposal.
The situation has prompted concern in defense circles and elsewhere, where sources have pointed out that AWACS are currently deployed in Poland and Romania in order to help monitor the standoff in Ukraine.
Hell, as we noted last week, Obama’s budget also does away the A-10 anti-tank helicopters. From the New York Times: “Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft would be eliminated. The aircraft was designed to destroy Soviet tanks in case of an invasion of Western Europe, and the capabilities are deemed less relevant today.”
Nope. No way we’ll ever need ground support from those A-10 ‘Thunderbolts’ again. (Even though they have been recently used in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Libya.)
AWACS are a highly advanced type of reconnaissance craft able to monitor enemy movements in the sky and ground from great distances. Each AWAC unit costs $270 million, according to the Air Force.
Which is how many EBT cards?
NATO dispatched several of its own AWACs on Monday to monitor Russian movement in Ukraine’s Crimea region, where a tense standoff is still taking place. “All AWACs reconnaissance flights will take place solely over alliance territory,” a NATO spokesman was quoted as saying by the BBC.
And they will be quickly grounded as soon as Putin says ‘boo.’
The seven U.S. AWAC planes cut in Obama’s budget would be completely scrapped if the proposal is adopted…
Lawmakers could pressure the Air Force to fight the cuts.
The Air Force, like every branch of the military, has seen its budgets significantly constrained in recent years. The Pentagon is faced with massive spending cuts under the budget and is considering cutting some 420,000 Army soldiers due to the financial constraints.
No, this is all due to Barack Hussein Obama. He is cutting our military to the bone, and then cutting the bone.
Taxpayers have paid more than $2.4 million to develop “origami condoms,” including male and female versions, and the “first of its kind anal condom.”
Out to “reinvent the condom,” Los Angeles businessman Danny Resnic has completed the first rounds of testing for three variations based on Japanese folding paper, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development initially spent $212,162 for a feasibility study on Resnic’s “new condom” in 2006. The idea was a non-rolled, silicone-based condom that “increases pleasure” and is more effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
The issue is important to Resnic who said a broken condom in the 1990s changed his life.
“We all know that latex condoms don’t feel great. They break, they slip, and they interfere with intimacy,” Resnic said, sporting green neon shoes and sitting next to an outdoor fireplace for a promotional video on his website.
“From my perspective, the latex condom, designed in 1918, just got it wrong,” he said. “In 1993 I had a life-changing incident, a broken condom and an HIV diagnosis. This drastically changed my view about condoms.”
“Like many people, I don’t love condoms for the obvious reasons,” Resnic continued. “Do you know anyone who does? What if there was something new and radical that you loved using instead of latex condoms?”
Resnic says he has done just that, creating a design that gives the feeling of “sex without a condom: the real deal.”
Perfecting his condoms would not be possible without the U.S. taxpayers. “Generous research and development funding” provided by the NIH supported Resnic’s company’s research and development and four Phase I clinical trials. Since 2006, he has received $2,466,482 to test the three variations.
The NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases then began funding Resnic’s clinical trials in 2009, providing two grants worth $1,130,670 to design and test the Origami RAI condom for “receptive anal intercourse.”
The “feasibility and acceptability study” tested the anal condom, which is “worn internally by a receptive male or female partner,” on 24 couples.
The condom is intended to “provide better sensation and less breakage” and to “increase the acceptability of condoms among those who practice anal intercourse and are at risk of HIV / STIs.”
“Unlike the off-label use of the rolled latex male condom, the [origami anal condom] OAC creates direct tactile contact for the penis inside the internally lubricated condom,” the company said. “The Top partner does not need to wear a condom, creating an experience closer to ‘sex without a condom.’”
“You can walk around and do most any activity with the condom pre-inserted,” Resnic said.
The anal condom is expected to hit the market in late 2015. It is undergoing further clinical trials.
Additionally, Resnic received $591,950 to test his “Origami female condom” on 40 heterosexual couples.
The female condom’s design provides “maximum protection against breakage, slippage, and viral permeability.” It features a “unique patented reservoir designed to minimize semen backflow,” the grant said. A video demonstration is provided on Resnic’s website.
Finally, the initial study for the “Origami male condom” cost $531,700, beginning in 2011. The male and female versions, which can “accommodate a range of penis sizes,” are also expected to reach the market in 2015.
“I am grateful for the support from the epidemiology research community and the NIH, without whom these innovations would not be possible,” Resnic said on his website.
“We re-invented the condom,” a promotional video on the Origami condom website said. The video will be used on social media to market the products, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restricts their advertising on television and radio.
Set to electronic dance music and neon colors, the 30-second promo begins with a song:
We’ve realized that people are still having sex
They’ve been told not to
Perhaps they are perplexed
When you see them holding hands
They’re making future plans to engage in the activity
Do you understand me?
People are still having sex
Lust keeps on lurking
Nothing makes them stop
“We did not anticipate the marketing challenge with FCC restrictions on media placement for the condom ads on TV and radio,” Resnic said. “The FCC will not allow a condom to be shown on TV, and radio messages have language restrictions. This makes it really difficult to market a product that cannot be seen or discussed.”
Resnic, who studied design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., said the “strategic” promo works around the FCC rules. “Origami condoms won’t go viral, but our promo should,” he said.
The Origami condom has been praised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is also providing millions in research for new condom designs. The billionaire and Microsoft founder is a strong proponent for increasing contraceptive use in developing countries in response to “population growth.”
Resnic also sees his products as being used around the world.
“In the long term we believe we can make a sustainable and measurable difference to reduce incidence of HIV and unplanned pregnancies on a global scale,” he said.
Requests for comment from NIH were not returned.
Less than a year after suffering a major investment downgrade, Chicago has been downgraded again. Moody’s Investment Services announced Tuesday that it was lowering Chicago’s rating from A3 to Baa1, three levels above junk bond status.
Last July, Moody’s downgraded Chicago from Aa3 to A3. President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown now has the lowest municipal bond rating of any city in the U.S. except bankrupt Detroit.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as White House Chief of Staff for President Obama from 2009 to late 2010, and who is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, has struggled to tackle the city’s looming pension crisis.
Through he reached an agreement with sanitation workers to reform the city’s garbage collection system, he has struggled to work with teachers’ unions and has not been able to rally the city behind broader municipal financial reforms.