Yesterday the New York Times ran a story about Medicare fraud in which it was reported that not only was fraud rife in the system, but that Medicare officials had done their considerable best to prevent the truth from coming out. The report specifically covered Medicare claims involving durable medical equipment, which means such things as walkers, wheelchairs, hospital beds, etc.
You’ve probably seen the ads on television promising that Medicare will pay for it, so you should order your motorized wheelchair or diabetes kit now. Medicare officials boasted that fraud in this area had been reduced to only $700 million, a mere bagatelle by federal bureaucratic standards. The inspector general has now determined that it was $2.8 billion, four times what Medicare had reported, and involved a staggering 31.5 percent of all claims for durable medical equipment.
One claim in three, in other words, shouldn’t have been paid. No private, profit-seeking insurance company would be solvent for a week with such massive amounts of fraudulent claims.
Today, the Times’s lead editorial quite properly demands action to correct this mess and points out that Congress is hardly blameless here, having “postponed a new competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment that would require a more intense look at the qualifications and integrity of the suppliers.”
I’m glad the Times is demanding action on this. But I have one question. If the federal government can’t run a program providing healthcare for those over 65, why is the Times in favor of turning everyone’s healthcare–and one-sixth of the American economy–over to those wonderful folks who have brought you Medicare?