Medicare Fraud Bust at Least Gave Holder Something Good to Report


Attorney General Eric Holder didn't intend to have a press conference today about the Department of Justice secretly collecting call records from Associated Press reporters and editors and the IRS asking inappropriate questions of conservative 501(c)4 groups. In actuality, he came out to crow about a massive Medicare fraud bust. If only anybody cared. The AP reports (no hard feelings, it seems) on what Holder had to say before the reporters started asking questions:

Nearly 100 people, including 14 doctors and nurses, were charged for their roles in separate Medicare scams that collectively billed the taxpayer-funded program for roughly $223 million in bogus charges in a massive bust spanning eight cities, federal authorities said Tuesday.

It was the latest in a string of similar announcements by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder as federal authorities crack down on fraud that's believed to cost the program between $60 billion and $90 billion each year. Stopping Medicare's budget from hemorrhaging that money will be key to paying for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Sebelius and Holder partnered in 2009 to increase enforcement by allocating more money and staff and creating strike forces in fraud hot spots around the country.

That sounds like lovely news, until you do the math and realize this massive bust accounts for not even one half of a percent of the amount of annual fraud the federal government believes takes place. It's the health care equivalent of holding a press conference over some drug interdiction bust that looks impressive with all those stacks of pot bricks and guns and whatever but accomplishes actually nothing due to massive the scope of the drug trade.

Follow this story and more at Reason 24/7.

Spice up your blog or Website with Reason 24/7 news and Reason articles. You can get the widgets here. If you have a story that would be of interest to Reason's readers please let us know by emailing the 24/7 crew at 24_7@reason.com, or tweet us stories at @reason247.