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

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

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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.

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*VIDEO* Pajamas Media: Trifecta – Too Damn Big! Can We Get The Government To Shrink?


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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

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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.

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Pulling A Scott Walker – Newly Elected Republican Governor Of Illinois Declares War On Government Unions

Illinois’ New Republican Governor Just Declared War On Government Unions – Daily Caller

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Illinois’ newly elected Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner attacked labor unions during a speech Tuesday, saying they are responsible for many problems that plague his state.

Throughout his speech, Rauner took aim at “government union bosses,” calling them corrupt for contributing to Democratic candidates in return for favorable deals.

“The taxpayer’s on the outside,” Rauner said during his speech in Decatur, according to Northern Public Radio.

“It’s a conflict of interest. It’s a closed loop. This is what’s going on,” Rauner continued. “It’s driving up our bureaucracy and jobs are leaving.”

“The unions that contract with the state: I think it’s the No. 1 conflict of interest in our state today,” Rauner declared.

Rauner pointed towards Prevailing Wage Laws and Project Labor Agreements as some of the few examples of how labor unions drive up costs through unfair laws.

According to The Illinois Policy Institute, the state is struggling in jobs and education, two areas vital to economic growth and stability.

“Illinois’ low standing for total job growth is unusual given that Illinois has the largest population in the Midwest and the fifth largest nationally,” the Institute noted in a report for 2014. “It takes a particularly toxic combination of bad policy and corrupt dealings to hinder such a large and talented workforce from keeping up with the likes of Kentucky and Connecticut.”

“Illinois tracks last of all states for private-sector job creation in 2014, one of only four states to be negative for jobs on the year,” the report added.

The governor also addressed right-to-work legislation. Though he is hesitant to support it as a state law, Rauner does say local leaders should decide for themselves if they want such legislation. Under a right-to-work law, workers cannot be forced into a union as a condition of employment.

“I’m not advocating Illinois becoming a right-to-work state, but I do advocate local governments being allowed to decide whether they’re right-to-work zones,” Rauner said according to The Associated Press.

Some union leaders are already attacking Rauner for deceiving voters during the election last year: While running for governor, Rauner said he was not anti-union.

“It’s taken him less than two weeks to show his true colors,” Sean Stott of the Laborer’s International Union told Northern Public Radio.

Scott says the governor’s plans will drive down wages and lead to a loss of jobs, and not just for union members.

Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan, called the governor’s speech, “failed right-wing economic policy.”

“The Bruce Rauner that managed to mask his true feelings about working families for most of last year showed his true agenda today,” Carrigan told Insurance News Net in a statement. “Much like his past proposal to cut the minimum wage, he is now going after workers on all fronts by supporting right to work, attacking unemployment insurance and workers compensation, as well as prevailing wage and project labor agreements that benefit both workers and the taxpayers.”

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*VIDEO* Bill Whittle: The Road To Hell


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Raging Douchebag Update: Spineless House RINOs Fully Fund Obama’s Executive Amnesty Scheme

Conservatives Express Anger That Amnesty Not Defunded In Omnibus: ‘The Fix Is In’ – Big Government

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Conservatives who had wanted to see language to block President Obama’s executive actions inserted into the massive, must-pass government funding bill are expressing frustration and anger at House Republican leadership’s lack of an appetite to fight amnesty now.

“The fix is in, which I’ve been saying all along,” Rep. Matt Salmon said after leaving the GOP’s conference meeting Wednesday morning.

Tuesday night the House Appropriations Committee posted its $1.1 trillion spending package. The measure is expected to receive a vote Thursday. If no funding bill is passed by that night, the government would shut down.

“Promises around here – regardless of who they are made by – don’t seem to mean anything,” Salmon told reporters.

He explained that lawmakers’ phones have been “lighting up” with constituents asking them “do what [they] were elected to do.”

The Arizona lawmaker is spearheading an amendment with other conservative lawmakers to attach an amendment to the funding bill that would prohibit funding for Obama’s executive amnesty. His spokesman estimated to Breitbart News that the amendment currently has 55 co-sponsors. The amendment is, however, unlikely to receive a vote.

Leadership’s spending package instead is designed to fund most of the government through September, but only fund the Department of Homeland Security into February, when Republicans will have more reinforcements in the Senate to pursue a fight against Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

“Without a threat of a government shutdown, this sets up a direct challenge to the president’s unilateral actions on immigration when we have new majorities in both chambers of Congress,” House Speaker John Boehner explained to reporters.

Conservative lawmakers Wednesday not only expressed frustration with the short amount of time given to consider the 1,603 page bill and the fact that it does not defund executive amnesty immediately, but they also questioned whether leadership would actually give a full-fledged fight next year.

“What is there to suggest that a few months from now you will oppose the amnesty that you have today funded?” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), also a co-sponsor of the defund amendment, asked.

“My biggest concern is that there are a significant number of Republicans who support amnesty, they just don’t support the way in which the president did it. That is a big distinction,” the Alabama conservative said.

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), another of the defund amendment’s co-sponsors, told Breitbart News that his constituents have been calling him to support of defunding executive amnesty.

According to Fleming “an avalanche” of calls from constituents could move the needle to get more members to push for defunding amnesty now.

“That’s what it takes. Otherwise I think Republicans are at serious risk of going out there and supporting something the American people do not support,” Fleming said.

He anticipated that many of the co-sponsors of the defund amendment will vote no on the package.

“For every one of us they’re going to have to find one [Democrat],” Fleming said.

Some of the ability to fight Obama on executive amnesty will be lost if House Republicans go along with allowing it to be funded, if only for a short time, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) argues.

“My point is you either defend the Constitution when the president violates it or you lose some of your ability and traction to do so later,” King said. “I think its better to fight now than it is later. So therefore I have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, that’s for this Congress and I expect to be standing on the floor January 6th taking another one. I don’t want to have voted to fund the lawless, unconstitutional act by the president and then I could take an oath and mean it.”

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), another defund amendment co-sponsor, said stopping amnesty is “the issue of the day,” saying the executive actions will already be implemented come next year when leadership hopes to have the fight against them.

“That’s probably impossible to undo it in late February. This idea we’re going to take it up next year, it’s too late if you’re going to wait until after the DACA has been implemented,” he argued.

The defund amendment will be presented to the House Rules Committee by another leader in the effort, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), later Wednesday according to Salmon’s spokesman.

While Salmon told reporters he “is sure [Rules] won’t” accept the amendment, he stressed that conservatives still have to try. He added that he still expected the overall funding measure to pass despite the opposition from conservatives frustrated over funding amnesty.

King told Breitbart News that he is not co-sponsoring the Salmon and Mulvaney effort but will instead try to get the House Rules Committee to take up an effort that that goes even further, to target not only Obama’s most recent executive amnesty but also DACA and the Morton Memos.

“Somebody’s got to preserve our constitutional argument and if I don’t bring my amendment there is a concession,” he explained.

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