No, not to the seniors enrolled in Medicare, silly! To the private insurance companies. Yet another GAO report has found yet another contracting scam that BushCo is ignoring.
Private insurance companies participating in Medicare have been allowed to keep tens of millions of dollars that should have gone to consumers, and the Bush administration did not properly audit the companies or try to recover money paid in error, Congressional investigators say in a new report.
What's remarkable about this though, is it is at least the third incidence where--when faced with accounting improprieties from a corporation working with the government--the Bush Administration refuses to ask for the money back.
The Medicare agency contends that it does not have the legal authority to force insurers to return money to beneficiaries or to the Medicare trust fund when auditors find “errors, incorrect or unreasonable assumptions or other misstatements” in company bids.
The Government Accountability Office insisted that Medicare officials “had the authority to pursue financial recoveries,” but did not use it.
Medicare hires private firms to conduct many audits. Insurers said that in many cases the auditors were not well versed in the intricacies of Medicare. Moreover, they said, Medicare has not provided clear guidance on how to define important items like administrative costs.
Medicare officials said they found significant errors in bids from 18 of the 80 organizations audited last year. But the Government Accountability Office said “there is a low probability of the audits identifying intentional misrepresentations,” because Medicare relies heavily on actuaries who prepare the bids to certify their accuracy.
Under a 2001 law, every federal agency is supposed to have a program for “recovering any amounts erroneously paid to contractors.”
The Bush administration told the Government Accountability Office that “general federal contract laws do not apply to the payments made under Medicare contracts.” [my emphasis]
The Bush Administration has done this with Minerals Management (meaning, when people drill for oil on our land and don't tell us how much they owe us, we just let them keep the money) and Iraq contracting--at the very least. I'm fairly certain there are a number of other instances where BushCo has simply claimed it was powerless to get the money back.
But I'd say three instances is beginning to look like a deliberate pattern, huh?