George Will has a good column this week pointing out why no one believes Barack Obama. The man chronically says two things that contradict each other. One of those is on medicare and "waste, fraud, and abuse."
He says Medicare is an exemplary program that validates government's prowess at running health systems. But he also says Medicare is unsustainable and going broke, and that he will pay for much of his reforms by eliminating the hundreds of billions of dollars of waste and fraud in this paragon of a program, and in Medicaid.
Precisely. In fact, last Wednesday night, Barack Obama, in his address to Congress, said
[W]e've estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system, a system that is currently full of waste and abuse. . . . The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud . . . . Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan.
Get the point? According the Barack Obama, most of his health care plan will be paid for by "reducing waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid" and getting rid of the fraud and abuse.
Who has he chosen as his health policy czar to make sure the waste, fraud, and abuse gets stamped out? Nancy-Ann DeParle.
And why do I call her a non sequitur appointee? Well, a non sequitur is a logical fallacy and that's what this appointment is. Why the hell would you appoint as your healty policy czar who will focus on rooting out Medicare's waste, fraud, and abuse the woman who ran Medicare for Bill Clinton and utterly and completely failed to root out waste, fraud, and abuse?
That's right — Nancy-Ann DeParle was in charge of Medicare during the Clinton Administration and left office having little to show for ridding the system of waste, fraud, and abuse.
But if you think that's the real story here, this just keeps getting better and better. Let's dig in, shall we!
Ever heard of Rick Scott? I wrote about him here.
Obama promised to lower healthcare costs. His preferred policy is to drive up private healthcare costs so public healthcare looks cheaper in comparison. Rick Scott, the former President and CEO of Columbia/HCA, founded Conservatives for Patients’ Rights to defend the free market healthcare system from the White House’s policy prescription. Instead of attacking his arguments or advancing their own arguments, the left coordinated an attack against Mr. Scott personally. The coordination began on one of [John Podesta's] 8:45 a.m. calls [that is designed to coordinate messaging among left wing journalists and bloggers].
On March 3, 2009, Jonathan Cohn wrote at the New Republic that Scott is “public enemy number one.” Ezra Klein, who also coordinates attacks against the right with journalists on a private email list, then took to the American Prospect to attack Scott for business practices at HCA. Two days later, John Podesta, on Fox News, tried dodging a question Rick Scott had raised about the costs of Obama’s program by smearing Scott. On March 11th, Christopher Hayes parroted his left-wing brethren at the Nation writing, “Having Scott lead the charge against healthcare reform is like tapping Bernie Madoff to campaign against tighter securities regulation.”
Back in August, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs attacked Rick Scott right from the White House:
"We talked about one of the guys in here who happens to hold the title of running a health care company and having it be fined the greatest amount, $1.7 billion, ever that the federal government has levied against a health care company," he said. "I'm not entirely sure what -- what part of his role he wanted to brag about."
Gibbs was referring to Rick Scott, the former head of Columbia/HCA, who formed the group Conservatives for Patients' Rights. That group, which opposes the president's efforts at health care reform, has posted the locations and times of town hall meetings on its Web site.
Let's return to Nancy-Ann DeParle. According to the Investigative Reporting Workshop of the American University School of Communication and MSNBC (!!!), Rick Scott has nothing on Nancy-Ann DeParle's corporate scandal taint.
In touting DeParle’s accomplishments when he appointed her in March, Obama didn’t mention the lucrative private-sector career she built since September 2000, when she left her government job running Medicare for the Clinton administration. Records show she earned more than $6.6 million since early 2001, according to a tally by the Investigative Reporting Workshop.
And the public wasn't told that much of that corporate career was built at companies that have frequently had to defend themselves against federal investigations. After leaving government, DeParle accepted director positions at half a dozen companies suspected of violating the very laws and regulations she had enforced for Medicare. Those companies got into further trouble on her watch as a director. Now she’s back in government as a leading voice in deciding the shape of health care reform. As director of the White House Office of Health Reform, DeParle is the point person in pushing for the administration's plans for changing health care and the ways Americans pay for it — changes in which her former companies have a great deal at stake.
Pot. Meet Kettle.
That's right folks. The White House is attacking Rick Scott for his leadership at Columbia/HCA while at the same time naming Nancy-Ann DeParle as health policy czar. And DeParle left government to go work for companies committing the waste, fraud, and abuse of the Medicare system DeParle never did anything about.
What's worse is that the companies DeParle worked for got into more trouble once she started working for them.
Five of the corporations whose boards DeParle served on have paid a total of $566 million since 2003 to settle fraud or product liability cases, often involving tax dollars paid by Medicare.
Four signed “corporate integrity agreements” in which they promised to tighten oversight of their billing practices in exchange for the government agreeing not to take legal action to kick them out of the Medicare program.
If the President is going to really pay for most of his health care plan by eliminating the waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare system, why would he appoint DeParle to oversee it? One could argue it is like hiring a burglar to burglar proof a house, except DeParle was on the inside turning a blind eye before leaving government and signing up with the burglars.
How do we know Nancy-Ann DeParle's record is bad news? Because even MSNBC could not ignore it. About the only one who could ignore it is Barack Obama.