As the nation contemplates the new health care entitlements that Congress and President Obama just created, it is worth noting an article in today's Washington Post, which reports on the performance of past efforts to eliminate fraud in another health care entitlement:
More than a decade ago, Congress set out to squeeze the fraud out of Medicare billing at nursing homes, requiring more precise justifications for costs. It created new "ultra-high" billing categories intended to be used for only 5 percent of the patients needing highly specialized care and rehabilitation.
But within a few years, nursing homes flooded the ultra-high categories with patients, contributing to $542 million a year in potential overpayments, federal analysts found.
Since then, the numbers in the ultra-high categories have quadrupled, and the amount of waste and abuse could reach billions of dollars a year...
The article ends with the ominous implication that eliminating fraud in entitlement programs like Medicare will ultimately require government agencies to decide whether certain services are medically necessary.
Death panels, anyone?