Friday, December 27, 2013

Check Out This Government Waste

Hospice firms draining billions from Medicare. "Hospice patients are expected to die: The treatment focuses on providing comfort to the terminally ill, not finding a cure. To enroll a patient, two doctors certify a life expectancy of six months or less. But over the past decade, the number of "hospice survivors" in the United States has risen dramatically, in part because hospice companies earn more by recruiting patients who aren't actually dying, a Washington Post investigation has found. Healthier patients are more profitable because they require fewer visits and stay enrolled longer. The proportion of patients who were discharged alive from hospice care rose about 50 percent between 2002 and 2012." Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating in The Washington Post.

Government pulls in reins on disability judges. "The Social Security Administration, smarting from recent scandals, this weekend is set to tighten its grip on 1,500 administrative law judges to ensure that disability benefits are awarded consistently and to rein in fraud in the program...Many judges have operated as if they were independent of the agency and awarded or denied benefits based on their own judgments. A few weeks ago, the SSA notified the judges of the changes. The job descriptions will no longer include the words "complete individual independence."" Damian Paletta in The Wall Street Journal.

For military, benefits and reform are challenge. "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said reforms in military compensation can't be avoided. "We all know that we need to slow cost growth in military compensation," Hagel told a Pentagon news conference last week...In an era of tight budgets, personnel costs now make up nearly half of the Pentagon's funding, and officials fear continued growth will force disproportionate cuts in other areas, such as training and equipment." The Associated Press.

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