Healthcare fugitives: Amid wrangling over federal budget, fraud still costs taxpayers billions

Source for HHS 'Most Wanted': Inspector General

Source for HHS ‘Most Wanted’: Inspector General

Members of both parties in Congress seem to have one agenda—continue to increase federal revenue otherwise known as taxes and/or fees while failing to account for trillions in spending. Nothing illustrates the failure of big government bureaucracy more than the fact Health and Human Services has its own ‘Most Wanted’ list.

At present more than 170 “fugitives” are being sought “on charges related to health care fraud and abuse.”

The amount of taxpayer dollars allegedly stolen is staggering.

In the ‘Captured’ section on the Health and Human Services website, government information points to millions and millions of tax dollars taken by fraud. South Florida is a hotbed for medical fraud. One recent suspect captured, Ariel Martinez Ruiz (Martinez), operated a healthcare company in Miami. The HHS Inspector General page said, “Investigators believe that Martinez, through his home health company, was paid over $4.7 million for services it did not render.” Captured in November, 2016, Martinez will face charges.

Another capture in 2016 was Adrian Basanta. HHS OIG noted: “In June 2016 Basanta was charged with racketeering conspiracy, organized fraud, false and fraudulent insurance claims, and money laundering.” Site of the alleged fraud was Miami-Dade County. The amount of taxpayer dollars at stake: “almost 12.5 million.” This was apparently a sophisticated operation:

“In total, 48 warrants were issued in the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida for 42 subjects. A joint arrest operation was conducted between HHS-OIG and Miami-Dade Police Department. Thirty-two individuals were arrested without incident as a direct result of this operation. Of the 10 remaining fugitives, 5 have since been captured including Basanta, who is in custody and will face charges stemming from the indictment.”

On the ‘Captured Page’ amounts of alleged fraud are always in the millions.

How much of the fraud money will the government be able to get back? Has a single member of Congress even asked?

Many suspects on the Wanted and Captured pages have ties to foreign nations.

Bear in mind these defrauded tax dollars are only one piece of the bureaucracy’s accountability failure.

The US government has disclosed an ongoing problem with ‘improper payments’ across federal agencies. The payments jumped by a large margin in 2009, the year President Barack Obama took office, topping $144 billion in 2016. The administration of President George W. Bush didn’t have a stellar record either.

In 2007 improper payments under Bush 2 topped $42 billion. By 2008 those payments topped $73 billion. Subsequently in the first year of Obama’s regime, payments jumped to $105 billion.

Reports regarding the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development recently surfaced with The Daily Caller’s expose´ on fraud. An article published April 30 raises questions about fugitives living in public housing. Isn’t it great when taxpayers provide housing for “1,300 fugitives – including rapists and murderers”?

The HUD inspector general claimed the data on those fugitives “wasn’t valid.” The Daily Caller also found several reports were not posted online for the public.

Meanwhile the government borrows money even as the bureaucracy doles it out irresponsibly.

As members of Congress argue about spending and budgets, Americans should take fraud and waste into consideration. The government has consistently taken in record amounts of revenue in recent years, and what model does Congress follow, regardless of party? Spend more and borrow more.

If a private company enabled this amount of fraud, it would fold.

We should be asking ourselves a question. Is the US Treasury too big to fail?

We should also demand to know how many of all these wasted tax dollars are recaptured.

Chart on Improper Payments from US Government's Payment Accuracy site.

Chart on Improper Payments from US Government’s Payment Accuracy site.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/May 1, 2017)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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One Response to Healthcare fugitives: Amid wrangling over federal budget, fraud still costs taxpayers billions

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