Four years after Obamacare became law, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is notifying Medicare providers and suppliers of new fingerprint-based background checks. Eventually, all individuals who hold a five percent or greater stake in a Medicare supplier or provider that is categorized as "high risk" will be subject to the requirement. The provision is part of the Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP Program Integrity Provisions (Title E) of the Affordable Care Act, and gives the HHS secretary broad discretion in applying the background check requirements depending on the potential for abuse, fraud, and/or waste.
The new requirements are spelled out in a document posted online on the website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last Friday. The new rules will apply to both current and future enrollees who are classified as "high risk," the stated purpose being to weed out "bad actors" in the Medicare program and prevent any more from enrolling.
This particular document is a "News Flash" from CMS's Medicare Learning Network and is addressed to suppliers and providers who submit claims for "Durable Medical Equipment Medicare Administrative Contractors (DME MACs) and Home Health and Hospice (HH&H) MACs for services provided to Medicare beneficiaries." There is no effective date or implementation date listed on the document; rather, the document states that "fingerprint-based background check implementation will be phased in beginning in 2014," and that those affected will receive letters after which the individuals will have thirty days to comply with the finger-printing requirement. The fingerprints will be submitted to the FBI for a background check and will be stored by the government in accordance with federal requirements and FBI guidelines.
Although initially the new regulations will only be applied to providers and suppliers of "Durable Medicare Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) suppliers or Home Health Agencies (HHA)," the "high risk" category is defined at the discretion of the HHS secretary and may be expanded in the future.
Here we go again. JPMorgan Chase will pay $2.6 billion in fines and compensation for its inattention to numerous red flags warning that its important customer, one Bernie Madoff, was running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
Truth to tell, The Scrapbook has gotten as good a laugh as anyone out of the saga of John C. Beale, the retired Environmental Protection Agency official—Princeton grad, onetime deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation, congressionally certified expert on global warming—who has been sentenced to 32 months in prison for stealing nearly a million dollars from the federal government.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reported last week that in 2011, the IRS paid out $3.6 billion in fraudulent refunds on tax returns filed by identity thieves. Even that amount was an improvement over the previous year when the total fraud was $5.2 billion. However, on Tuesday, TIGTA released a new report that found that though the IRS is making some progress against fraud, it is not using all available tools to prevent erroneous refunds and improper tax credits.
As the October 1 implementation of parts of Obamacare nears, House Republicans continue to pass legislation aimed at highlighting the health care law's flaws and weaknesses. On Thursday, the House passed a bill to reform an Obamacare verification process that would better stop fraudulent claims to health insurance subsidies. Politico reports:
The state of Alabama received bonus payments from Medicaid for 2009 and 2010 that were a stunning 13 times higher than the state was eligible for. So says the inspector general (IG) for Health and Human Services in a report released on Wednesday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report on Thursday regarding illegal trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. The report showed that the rate of trafficking rose from 1 percent of total benefits in the last study period of 2006-2008 to 1.3 percent in the current study period of 2009-2011, an increase of 30 percent. The report noted the trafficking rate remains well below a rate of almost 4 percent that existed for much of the 1990s. The rate plunged to 1 percent by the 2002-2005 study period and remained there until the current report:
Despite an admission by the Department of Transportation (DOT) that the Federal-aid Highway Programs under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are "susceptible to significant improper payments," the DOT Inspector General (IG) has terminated an audit initiated in April "due to other higher priority work demands."
Congressional hearings over the last two weeks have been filled with stories of misconduct due to incompetence and inexperience among certain IRS employees. Both Republicans and Democrats have leveled the accusations, and Internal Revenue officials testifying before Congress have admitted as much. At the same time, all parties have stressed that the vast majority of IRS employees are hard working, competent, and honest civil servants.
Here's a photo of an election judge checking in voters in Barack Obama's Chicago ward--wearing an Obama baseball cap:
"This photo, taken by a voter this morning at the Ward 4, Precinct 37 polling place (1212 South Plymouth Court, Chicago), shows an election judge checking in voters while wearing an Obama hat," a source writes. "Chicago's 4th ward is home to President Barack Obama."