Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Medicare Waste -- Our Government at Work

If you ever thought we could pay for the health care schemes by cutting out waste from Medicare/Medicaid, you might be onto something.

According to their own auditors, Medicare knowingly overpays for almost everything it buys. Examples include:

-- $7,215 to rent an oxygen concentrator, when the purchase price is $600.

-- $4,018 for a standard wheelchair, while the private sector pays $1,048.

-- $1,825 for a hospital bed, compared to an Internet price of $1,071.

-- $3,335 for a respiratory pump, versus an advertised price of $1,987.

-- $82 for a diabetic supply kit, instead of a $47 price on the Web.

Last year, the Health and Human Services Department tried to replace its archaic fixed-price fee schedule for 10 commonly purchased products with a competitive bidding program in 10 cities. The department said the program could save Medicare $125 million in a single year, or $1 billion if adopted nationwide. But Congress stepped in to stop it.

"There were products that we had as much as 75 percent savings. The average was 29 percent," said Mike Leavitt, the former HHS secretary who oversaw the program.

"It would have saved billions if we could've actually implemented it, but Congress deferred it. In Washington speak, that means we put it off forever," he said.

Leavitt blames Congressmen Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.) for introducing legislation that terminated the contracts and postponed the program for 18 months. Leavitt says the congressional intervention helps explain why many are suspicious of claims that Washington can cut enough waste to actually pay for health care reform, as President Obama told a joint session of Congress last month.

Although this proves there is a vast amount of waste in the Medicare program, the meddling by Congress to keep the waste in place shows that politicians and the government are not good stewards of our money. It also proves that the government is not the place to look for responsible management or even our trust.

The original article can be found here.

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