Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Care About the Money First

While Democrats here in Wisconsin assail Governor Scott Walker for not taking 200-million dollars in additional Medicaid funding to expand eligibility for BadgerCare, a new audit finds that in Illinois--which gladly accepted the extra money as part of the Affordable Care Act--one half of those on Medicaid programs are not actually eligible for those benefits.  Of course, state officials are trying to downplay the results of the on-going audit--claiming the fraud rate is "only" about 25%--because the number-crunchers have looked at the cases "where ineligibility is most likely" so far.  One would think that would lead Illinoisians to question why there would be a list of "likely inelligibles" to start with--and why state workers themselves weren't the ones trying to determine if fraud is being committed.  The same audit also finds that two-thirds of Illinois Medicaid recipients--whether they were legit or not--were receiving the wrong benefits. 

Fraud was likely a factor in some cases, one lawmaker quoted in the TV story on the audit findings admitted that most ineligible recipients got into the program legally, but were never removed after their financial situations improved.  It's precisely the kind of result you would find in a system that measures "success" not by the number of people who move out of the entitlement programs--but rather through the sheer number of people who are getting "help"--whether they need it or not.

Fiscal Conservatives are portrayed as "cold and heartless" for demanding accountability from programs like Medicaid and Food Stamps.  Liberals trumpet their lines about how "it's about people, not money".  But who is really looking out for the needy when those who are in no need of government help are allowed to steal from those who actually need it?  Would there need to be a cut in Food Stamps benefits for the single mother of three if a family of four failing to disclose an extra job (or child support payments) wasn't in there taking some of that money as well?  Wouldn't we be showing those in the welfare programs just how important that money was by making the process to get it more difficult--ensuring that scammers and thieves can't skim from the top?  It's just easier I guess to print more money to make up for the losses--and if you get a few more potential Democratic voters you can scare with "Republican threats" to cut Medicaid programs, it's all the better!

Oh and did I mention that eligibility for the federal vouchers to help pay for health insurance in the new exchanges will be "on your honor" for at least the first year of the program.  That's right, NO ONE will be checking to see if the income figures people report when applying on are legit before the money is paid out.  Maybe President Obama wants to beat the rate of fraudulence set by his home state--all in the name of "putting people first".

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