Medicare Thieves

I enjoyed "Medicare Thieves," by Peter Suderman (October). For several decades I have been a co-owner of a company that provides "durable medical equipment" (DME) under Medicare. As Suderman reported, within our category we have had more than our share of fraudulent providers who have ripped off Medicare and taxpayers. In its effort to reduce this fraud, Medicare now requires all DME providers to purchase a fidelity bond for each store location in the amount of $50,000. This amount is payable to Medicare in the event that Medicare makes an overpayment and the provider is not able to pay the money back. This requirement helps recover taxpayer money and ensures that an independent bonding company feels comfortable enough with the provider to issue the bond. Medicare also requires all DME providers to be accredited by an independent agency, just like hospitals. This helps ensure that safe and appropriate care is provided to the patient and requires that the accrediting agency be confident about the legitimacy of the provider. But these policies do have unintended consequences. It is now much more difficult and costly for new "mom and pop" competitors to enter the market. 

Suderman also correctly reported that credit card companies have as much billing volume as Medicare but have much less fraud. The biggest reason for this probably is that people must pay 100 percent of their credit card purchases. If there is any error (or fraudulent billing), the customer will report it and not pay. In the case of Medicare, most people pay nothing or very little. A patient who doesn't have to pay anything for his Medicare services may not even look at the paperwork that shows how much Medicare paid a provider. This is a significant reason why Medicare fraudsters don't get caught quickly.

Kurt Johnson 

Urbandale, IA 

The Great Basketball Swindle

There is even more to "The Great Basketball Swindle" (October) than the use of eminent domain to support developer Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn, New York, Atlantic Yards project, which includes a new stadium for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. None of this is new for taxpayers and real sports fans. Public officials receive pay-for-play campaign donations from team owners, their consultants, and lobbyists in exchange for corporate welfare and support of eminent domain. 

Public dollars on the city, state, and federal level are being used as corporate welfare to subsidize a private business. The only real beneficiaries of these expenditures are team owners and their multimillion-dollar players.

It is impossible to judge the amount of new economic activities that these so-called public benefits will generate. Given the revenue from selling the stadium name, broadcast rights, season sky boxes and reserved seating, souvenirs and refreshments, and renting the venue for rock concerts and other events, it is hard to believe that the Nets and other sports teams owners couldn't finance their new stadiums by themselves.

Larry Penner 

Great Neck, NY