Maryland Obamacare Exchange Wrongly Billed U.S. Taxpayers $28M

MD’s Exchange Wrongly Billed U.S. Taxpayers $28M – Sweetness & Light

.

.
From the United Press International:

Audit shows Maryland health exchange improperly billed $28.4 million

March 27, 2015

WASHINGTON (UPI) – Maryland’s health insurance exchange improperly billed the federal government $28.4 million, a Department of Health and Human Services audit reported Friday.

In another patented Friday evening news dump.

An inspector general’s probe found a lack of oversight and internal controls, not criminal wrongdoing, was the cause of the exchange’s problems since the marketplace opened in 2013.

Their incompetence seems to border on criminality.

The Maryland Health Connection was among the first state exchanges approved by the federal government, but its website crashed on its first day of operation and it experienced numerous software problems and feuds between contractors.

The entire technological infrastructure of the exchange was scrapped in 2014 and replaced by a platform used by Connecticut’s exchange.

In other words, it was a typical Obama-Care success story. By the way, wouldn’t Maryland’s governor make a great President?

The audit said the state used a 2013 and 2014 federal grant to cover the exchange’s costs when it should have used funds from a Medicaid program jointly financed by Maryland and the federal government…

We’re sure it was an innocent mistake. The state wouldn’t want to try to cheat the federal taxpayers in other states.

The audit found two accounting errors, a $15.9 million misallocation caused by out-of-date enrollment data, and $12.5 million through an unidentified contractor’s incorrect calculations.

It recommended Maryland pay back the $28.4 million, then apply for the actual amount due it from the federal government…

Don’t hold your breath.

.

.

Department Of Veterans Affairs Official Paid $288K In ‘Relocation Payments’ To Move 140 Miles

VA Official Paid $288K In ‘Relocation Payments’ To Move 140 Miles – Daily Caller

.

.
The director of the Philadelphia VA regional benefits office was paid $288,000 in “relocation payments” to move the 140 miles from Washington, D.C. to her new home last year.

Diana Rubens was tapped last June to take over the Philadelphia regional benefits office, which is one of many VA hospitals and benefits offices currently being investigated over benefits claims.

Rubens, who previously served as the D.C.-based deputy undersecretary for field operations, where she oversaw 57 regional offices, was brought in to help fix the embattled Philadelphia facility.

A breakdown of Rubens’ “relocation payments” was not immediately available, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, but a VA spokesman said that there was nothing inappropriate with the spending.

Federal regulations allow for the reimbursement of relocation expenses including the “costs of house-hunting, moving, terminating leases, and a per-diem rate for meals and temporary housing for an employee and his or her family,” the spokesman said.

But that hefty repayment is nearly 160 percent of what Rubens earned in base pay all of last year, raising questions over what exactly that money could have gone towards.

Rubens was paid more than $181,000 in 2014, according to the website FedSmith.com, which maintains a database of federal employee compensation.

“The government shouldn’t be in the business of doling out hundreds of thousands in cash to extremely well-compensated executives just to move less than three hours down the road,” Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, told the Inquirer.

“For VA to pay such an outrageous amount in relocation expenses at a time when the department is continually telling Congress and taxpayers it needs more money raises questions about VA’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, transparency and true reform.”

Rubens has been mentioned before in articles criticizing other money she’s been paid by the VA. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, in 2011, she received a bonus of more than $23,000 even though patient backlogs – one area Rubens was in charge of managing – increased by 300,000.

The Washington Examiner reported last year that Rubens received more than $97,000 in bonuses between 2007 and 2011 even though the average time to process veterans’ claims doubled to 325 days on her watch. The ratio of backlogged cases nearly doubled as well, from 37 percent in 2009 to 71 percent in 2013.

.

.

Federal Government Shelled Out $125B In Bogus Payments Last Year

Feds Shelled Out $125B In Bogus Payments Last Year – Washington Times

.

.
The government paid out $124.7 billion in potentially bogus payments last year, the government’s chief watchdog said Monday, blaming a controversial tax credit for the poor as well as increased bad payments in Medicare and Medicaid.

One major problem is tracking when Americans die – the Social Security Administration admitted last week that its rolls are filled with names of more than 6 million folks who are listed as 112 years of age or older.

The Government Accountability Office said Social Security has trouble maintaining the Death Master File, and other agencies have difficulties in getting the information to update their own files and halt payments to those no longer alive to collect benefits.

SEE ALSO: Rand Paul emerges as the harshest GOP critic of Clinton emails

At the same time, being improperly listed on the Death Master File can cause nightmares, said Judy C. Rivers, a woman who has twice been erroneously listed, leaving her denied for jobs, rejected for apartments and forced to live in her car.

At one point she spent an hour haggling with a bank that was refusing to open an account for her but wouldn’t tell her why. Eventually the manager told Ms. Rivers her Social Security number had been listed by the federal agency as deactivated “due to death.”

“The Death Master File has been like a propagating hydra underlying all my problems,” she told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

SEE ALSO: VA refusing to comply with Congress on transparency, reforms, lawmakers say

It took her four years to clear up enough of the problems that she was able to be approved for a credit card again.

Social Security’s inspector general said a 2008 investigation found more than 20,000 people who were wrongly listed in the death file.

The agency says its hands are tied and it must release some information about those in its death file in response to open-records requests, leaving those erroneously listed open to even more fraud if an unscrupulous actor gets their number and realizes they are still alive.

Social Security insists it hasn’t found an instance where someone’s identity was compromised solely because of being wrongly listed.

Sean Brune, senior adviser to the deputy Social Security commissioner, said less than half a percent of the 2.8 million new death reports they get each year are inaccurate.

The agency gets its information from banks, post offices, and federal and state agencies that pay out benefits, such as the Veterans Affairs Department or Medicare.

Social Security paid out a little more than $8 billion in improper payments last year, according to GAO investigators. The supplemental security income program had a 9.2 percent error rate, while the retirement benefits program had a much smaller error rate of four-tenths of a percent.

The biggest problems, however, came at Medicare, whose basic fee-for-service program paid out $45.8 billion in improper payments, or nearly 13 percent of its outlays, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which botched 27.2 percent of its payments, for a total of $17.7 billion, the GAO said.

Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and unemployment insurance rounded out the top five worst programs in terms of dollars spent on potentially bogus payments.

The government paid out $124.7 billion in potentially bogus payments last year, the government’s chief watchdog said Monday, blaming a controversial tax credit for the poor as well as increased bad payments in Medicare and Medicaid.

One major problem is tracking when Americans die – the Social Security Administration admitted last week that its rolls are filled with names of more than 6 million folks who are listed as 112 years of age or older.

The Government Accountability Office said Social Security has trouble maintaining the Death Master File, and other agencies have difficulties in getting the information to update their own files and halt payments to those no longer alive to collect benefits.

SEE ALSO: Rand Paul emerges as the harshest GOP critic of Clinton emails

At the same time, being improperly listed on the Death Master File can cause nightmares, said Judy C. Rivers, a woman who has twice been erroneously listed, leaving her denied for jobs, rejected for apartments and forced to live in her car.

At one point she spent an hour haggling with a bank that was refusing to open an account for her but wouldn’t tell her why. Eventually the manager told Ms. Rivers her Social Security number had been listed by the federal agency as deactivated “due to death.”

“The Death Master File has been like a propagating hydra underlying all my problems,” she told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

It took her four years to clear up enough of the problems that she was able to be approved for a credit card again.

Social Security’s inspector general said a 2008 investigation found more than 20,000 people who were wrongly listed in the death file.

The agency says its hands are tied and it must release some information about those in its death file in response to open-records requests, leaving those erroneously listed open to even more fraud if an unscrupulous actor gets their number and realizes they are still alive.

Social Security insists it hasn’t found an instance where someone’s identity was compromised solely because of being wrongly listed.

Sean Brune, senior adviser to the deputy Social Security commissioner, said less than half a percent of the 2.8 million new death reports they get each year are inaccurate.

The agency gets its information from banks, post offices, and federal and state agencies that pay out benefits, such as the Veterans Affairs Department or Medicare.

Social Security paid out a little more than $8 billion in improper payments last year, according to GAO investigators. The supplemental security income program had a 9.2 percent error rate, while the retirement benefits program had a much smaller error rate of four-tenths of a percent.

The biggest problems, however, came at Medicare, whose basic fee-for-service program paid out $45.8 billion in improper payments, or nearly 13 percent of its outlays, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which botched 27.2 percent of its payments, for a total of $17.7 billion, the GAO said.

Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and unemployment insurance rounded out the top five worst programs in terms of dollars spent on potentially bogus payments.

.

.

Thanks To Racist Obamabots, Ferguson Home Values Have Plummeted By Nearly 50 Percent

Ferguson Home Values Down Nearly Fifty Percent Since Mike Brown’s Death – Gateway Pundit

.

.
On November 24, 2014, at least 18 Ferguson businesses were torched to the ground and several more were looted and vandalized after a jury announced it would not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of robber Michael Brown.

Thanks to the non-stop protests, the violence, the arson, the looting property values in Ferguson have dropped nearly fifty percent in the last seven months.

Fusion reported:

The average selling price of a home in the city has been on a steady decline since the shooting of Brown last August, according to housing data compiled from MARIS, an information and statistics service for real estate agents. Prior to Brown’s death, the average home sold in 2014 was selling for $66,764. For the last three and a half months of the year, the average home sold for $36,168, a 46 percent decrease.

The trend has continued on through this year, with the average home selling for only $22,951 so far in 2015. Another negative indicator: in the eight and a half months leading up to Brown’s death, the average residential square foot in 2014 was selling for $45.82. In the eight and a half months since Brown’s passing, the average residential square foot in the city has sold for $24.11. That’s about a 47 percent downtick in one of real estate’s core indicators.

“This is not normal for the region,” says Crista Patton, a local REMAX real estate agent who helped get these numbers for Fusion. “Last time I pulled up numbers like this for a neighborhood around here, we were seeing the market going up,” she says. “In St. Louis in general, the market is going up, and as a whole it’s almost completely recovered from the recession.”

The city admits that its finances are taking a hit, with no end in sight, due to the events since Brown’s death. “The[city’s] response to the unrest, as well as other related matters, has resulted in significant, unanticipated expenditures,” reads the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for 2014. “The civil unrest also resulted in some lost revenues… At this time, the total impact of this event on the City’s revenues and expenses is not able to be estimated.”

.

.

Senate Investigating Whether Obama Is Funding Anti-Netanyahu Campaign With Taxpayer Money Via Nonprofit Group

Senate Investigating Whether Obama Regime Funding Effort To Oust Netanyahu – Weasel Zippers

.

.
With tax payer dollars, no less.

Via Fox News:

A powerful U.S. Senate investigatory committee has launched a bipartisan probe into an American nonprofit’s funding of efforts to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the Obama administration’s State Department gave the nonprofit taxpayer-funded grants, a source with knowledge of the panel’s activities told FoxNews.com.

The fact that both Democrat and Republican sides of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations have signed off on the probe could be seen as a rebuke to President Obama, who has had a well-documented adversarial relationship with the Israeli leader.

The development comes as Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel Two television station this week that there were “governments” that wanted to help with the “Just Not Bibi” campaigning – Bibi being the Israeli leader’s nickname.

It also follows a FoxNews.com report on claims the Obama administration has been meddling in the Israeli election on behalf of groups hostile to Netanyahu. A spokesperson for Sen. Rob Portman, (R-Ohio), the chair of the committee, refused comment, and aides to ranking Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, did not immediately return calls.

Keep reading

.

.

Department Of Education Employees Caught Stealing Students’ Personal Information To Apply For Credit Cards, Loans

Fraudsters In Department Of Education Are Caught Stealing Students’ Personal Information To Apply For Loans And Cellphones, And One Worker Looked Up Barack Obama’s Student Loan Records – Daily Mail

.

.
Government employees have been caught stealing students’ personal information to apply for loans, credit cards and set up new cell phone accounts,Daily Mail Online has learned.

Reports on breaches of staff conduct inside the Department of Education shows how workers stole social security numbers from a database while a man was fired for trying to look up President Barack Obama’s student loan records.

Cyber security campaigners warned that the failure to protect sensitive information because of ‘bureaucratic incompetence’ is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

Insiders involved in illicit breaches are often overlooked, simply because the public think hackers and cybercriminals are more often to blame, they said.

Lee Tien, senior staff attorney and Adams Chair for Internet Rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Mail Online ‘insiders are frequently part of the breach story’.

He added that entities – especially the government – need to uphold their duty to safeguard other people’s personal information.

Berin Szoka, the president of Tech Freedom, insisted some of the privacy issues come from within the government.

‘As usual, the real privacy problem is government. Big Brother surveillance at the NSA is bad enough,’ he told the Daily Mail Online.

‘But bureaucratic incompetence can be far bigger problem. Failing to protect sensitive student loan data is just the tip of the iceberg of poor data security inside government.’

According to the documents – obtained by the Daily Mail Online through a Freedom of Information Act request – a number of government employees set up an illicit scheme to steal students’ information.

One woman created a bogus Department of Education account to access the National Student Loan Data System to aid her criminal plot.

While accessing the records, she would extract information from individual accounts.

She swapped around the last four digits of her SSN with those of another during the scheme, and set up the fake identity to apply for credit cards, personal loans and set up a Sprint cell phone account.

An internal investigation within the department found she went into the database 24 times between 2006 and 2009 to retrieve the information.

Just 24 hours after searching through the database on one occasion in 2009, the documents revealed she applied for a personal loan.

The unidentified employee was arrested and charged in 2011 for stealing more than $500 using the stolen details.

One of the documents related to her case reads: ‘It appears [the employee] did not have a business reason to run either name in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).’

After pleading guilty, she was sentenced to 18 months in jail with a 17-month suspended sentence. However, according to the documents, the employee only served a month in prison and was then given authorized work by a judge.

It’s not known what happened to the other staff members involved in the scheme.

In 2011, a man violated department protocols by trying to access ‘Barrack [sic] Obama’s student loans records. According to the documents he consistently spelled the president’s name wrong – using two ‘r’s.

The employee involved was not prosecuted, but lost his job after departmental staff also discovered he had misused his government-issued travel card.

It is not clear why he tried to access the records as Obama has made the majority of his financial history public knowledge.

He paid off his student loans in in 2004 while he was in the Illinois State Senate. He took out $42,753 in loans to pay for his Harvard Law School tuition while Michelle applied for $40,762 in loans for her Harvard Law education.

The couple carried their debt for 25 years, but the president is believed to have paid it off using $1.9million worth of royalties from his book, Dreams of My Father. It was reissued and became a best seller after his speech at the Democratic convention in 2004.

A third Department of Education employee was investigated in 2014 for using his government email to promote his own business at the taxpayers’ expense. Some of the documents involved have been heavily redacted.

The analysis revealed there were approximately 166 calls totaling 616 minutes or approximately 10 hours of calls during on-duty hours. His calls cost the government approximately $478.36 based on his hourly salary.

He admitted that he shouldn’t have used government equipment – including a scanner, printer, phone and email – for his own personal gain, but it’s not clear what type of business he was operating or whether he was punished.

Another part of the document trove described the investigation into Joseph Butler, a veteran department employee from Clarkstown, Georgia, who accessed child pornography for years.

According to reports he was able to filter his computer activity and get around filtering software preventing government staff from visiting illicit websites.

More than 70 disturbing images were founded embedded in several Microsoft Word documents that were then saved to his government computer.

His Internet browsing history also revealed he had searched for child nudity and pornography.

Butler used his computer to download images onto CD-ROMs, which federal agents found during a search of his home in July 2011. Agents also found graphic stories Butler had written about children.

He is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence. When he is released he will have to sign up to the sex offenders register and completed five years of supervision.

The Department of Education did not comment on the revelations.

However a report in 2015 addressing ‘management challenges’ highlighted ‘repeated problems in IT security and noted increasing threats and vulnerabilities to the Department’s systems and data.’

The document said more steps needed to be taken to make sure federal employees did not breach the database.

One of the factors considered was a two-step authorization process – but it is yet to be implemented.

In September 2013 the Office of the Inspector General – who oversee the Department’s management – warned officials there were weaknesses led to ‘unauthorized accesses to private information.’

.

.

Buried In The Numbers: Obamacare’s Costs Are Climbing, Not Receding (Sally Pipes)

Buried In The Numbers: Obamacare’s Costs Are Climbing, Not Receding – Sally Pipes

.

.
Late last month, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the provisions within Obamacare expanding access to insurance coverage would cost 20% less than the agency estimated in 2010, when the law passed.

The White House was ecstatic. “The estimates released today by CBO once again confirm the progress we’ve made,” said deputy press secretary Eric Schultz.

Taxpayers, however, should worry. A closer look at the CBO’s numbers shows that Obamacare is growing much more expensive – and disruptive.

The CBO now expects Obamacare to cover far fewer uninsured than it previously thought. In a March 2011 report, the nonpartisan agency predicted that Obamacare would extend coverage to 34 million uninsured by 2021. It has since downgraded that number to 27 million – and concluded that Obamacare will leave 31 million Americans without insurance.

So the law’s overall price tag has declined only because it’s covering fewer people.

Left unsaid is the fact that Obamacare is set to spend more per person. If the law is not repealed, Obamacare will shell out $7,740 in subsidies for every person who gains coverage in 2021. That’s a 7% increase over the agency’s per-person estimate in 2011.

The CBO now projects that the law will cost nearly $2 trillion over the next ten years. Obamacare’s subsidies alone will cost $1.1 trillion. In 2010, the agency put the cost of the entire law at $940 billion over its first decade.

Obamacare hasn’t just failed to expand coverage as projected – it’s caused more people to lose their insurance than its architects intended. The CBO now estimates that 10 million people will lose their employer-provided health benefits by 2021. That’s a tenfold increase over the agency’s 2011 projections.

Indeed, the CBO originally predicted that Obamacare would boost employer-based health coverage by several million from 2011 to 2015.

This latest round of CBO projections could look downright rosy if health costs rise in the future.

That seems likely. National health spending shot up 5.6% last year. The agency predicts that it will climb 6% a year for the foreseeable future. That’s a 50% uptick from the average annual health inflation rate over the past six years.

Meanwhile, by offering subsidies for the purchase of insurance on state or federal exchanges, Obamacare will increase demand for it. That will fuel further price inflation.

Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber admitted as much in a January 2014 interview, saying, “The law isn’t designed to save money. It’s designed to improve health, and that’s going to cost money.” The president, of course, promised otherwise.

The law’s costs could rise even faster if companies dodge the employer mandate, which require firms with at least 100 full-time employees to offer health plans or pay a fine starting this year. Those with at least 50 full-timers must do the same beginning in 2016.

Employers might cut back on their workers’ hours so that they’re considered part-time — or stop hiring workers. Some firms may dump their health plans altogether, thanks to Obamacare’s many other cost-inflating mandates and regulations. The fine may be cheaper than the cost of coverage.

That may be good for their bottom line. But workers would suddenly have to pay for their own coverage on the exchanges. Taxpayers would have to pick up a share of the tab for those that qualify for subsidies.

These possibilities are becoming reality. A recent survey of small companies in southwestern Michigan found that one-quarter planned to drop their health plans this year because of Obamacare. Another quarter expect to do so next year.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, another of Obamacare’s architects, believes these mass exoduses will continue. He predicts that Obamacare will bring about “the end of employer-sponsored insurance.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Our healthcare system can deliver better quality care at lower cost – but only if the federal government repeals the Affordable Care Act and replaces it with a healthcare law based on market-friendly reforms.

Consider the market for senior care – dominated, of course, by Medicare. Lawmakers should replace the current, open-ended, fee-for-service system with means-tested vouchers available to beneficiaries at age 67, just as Social Security is. Under such a system, seniors would be able to pick from a variety of privately administered health plans. Competition can do the job of reducing costs and improving quality.

It’s already done so in the Medicare Part D drug benefit, which allows seniors to choose from among prescription drug plans offered by competing insurance companies. According to the CBO, Part D’s cost between 2004 and 2013 was 45% lower than the agency predicted at the outset.

Lawmakers should adopt a similar approach to reforming Medicaid, the joint state-federal health plan for the poor. A fixed block grant for each state – and private options for Medicaid enrollees – would empower states to experiment with their programs to determine how to deliver the best care at the lowest cost.

There’s evidence that this approach can save money and improve care. In 2011, Oregon convinced the Obama administration to give it a block grant of sorts. The results have been impressive. Emergency-room visits declined 17%. From 2011 to 2014, costs fell 19%.

If Oregon’s approach were adopted nationwide, Medicaid spending could decline by more than $900 billion over the next decade, according to CMS.

Obamacare is failing to reduce our nation’s health costs and to expand access to insurance as promised. Congress’s own budget watchdog now admits as much.

Congressional Republicans have finally begun to do something about that reality, with their vote to repeal Obamacare last week and their reinvigorated drive to formulate a replacement. They must complete the job.

.

.