Monday, May 16, 2005

The Terrorists -- er, Con Men -- Have Already Won

Congress gave the FBI $114 million of your tax money to go out and catch people ripping off health insurance. Those frauds drive the price of your health care up and often steal Medicare payments -- paid for with your tax dollars.

But catching con-men doesn't grab headlines like going after terrorists. So the FBI took some the money and spent it for other things.

Now that move is buying the FBI some bad press.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says, "It's inexcusable that the government cannot account for millions of dollars set aside to fight health care fraud."

One in every five dollars Washington spends goes to Medicare and Medicaid -- $474 billion last year alone. About $19.9 billion went out in overpayments.

Doing the math, it looks like $114 million to get back that $19.9 billion would be a pretty good investment. That's roughly a 174-to-1 return.

Guess you don't have to be a detective to realize the FBI ain't too good at math. And the Government Accountability Office seems to agree. They have a report saying, "The FBI had no effective mechanism in place" to account for your money. (NYT)

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