GAO Is ‘Concerned’ about the Legality of Obama’s Senior Swindle

By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON – The Weekly Standard  –

Now that Americans are becoming more acutely aware that Obamacare would be funded in large part through higher taxes, it’s all the more crucial for President Obama to keep voters from discovering the overhaul’s other principal source of funding — its Medicare raid.

Fortunately for Obama, his administration recently launched the $8.35 billion Senior Swindle, a taxpayer-financed “demonstration project” to hide the vast majority of Obamacare’s Medicare Advantage cuts from seniors until after what he likes to call his “last election.” Unfortunately, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) — the independent, nonpartisan congressional watchdog — has identified this “demonstration project” as a sham. And now, in a newly released letter, the GAO raises continuing concerns about the gambit’s legality.

Highlighting the project’s myriad “design shortcomings,” including its excessive focus on 2012 (imagine that), its awarding “most” of its “quality bonuses” to average-performing plans, and its lack of a control group, the GAO — not known for its bluntness — previously concluded that Obama’s secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius “should cancel” the project and perhaps, sometime in the future, consider “conducting an appropriately designed demonstration.”

The GAO also previously observed that the demonstration “does not…conform to the principles of budget neutrality.” That’s a polite way of saying that the administration is running up the national debt by another $8.35 billion in order to boost Obama’s reelection prospects.

For context, that $8.35 billion tally — which is being put on the taxpayers’ tab — is more than 47 times the $177 million combined sum that Obama, Mitt Romney, the Democratic National Committee, and the Republican National Committee, raised last month.

And now, in a letter to Sebelius dated July 11, 2012 and obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Lynn Gibson, the GAO’s general counsel, writes that the GAO remains “concerned” about the administration’s “legal authority to undertake the demonstration.” Gibson writes,

“Our findings during the course of our evaluation of the demonstration…raised concerns about whether the demonstration falls within HHS’s section 402 authority, and resulted in our solicitation, by letter of January 10, 2012, of the views of the General Counsel of HHS regarding this issue. By letter of February 10, 2012, the Deputy Director of the Center for Medicare within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) responded to our inquiry. CMS’s response, however, does not explain how the MA Quality Bonus Payment Demonstration comports with its section 402 authority. To the contrary, as [is] discussed in detail below, we remain concerned about the agency’s legal authority to undertake the demonstration….

The GAO’s letter concludes:

“Section 402(a)(1)(A) provides the Secretary broad authority to modify methods of payment under Medicare to establish additional incentives to increase the economy and efficiency of services provided under the program by carrying out experiments and demonstration projects. This authority, however, is not unlimited….[D]emonstrations under which these payment changes are initiated must meet the criteria set forth in the statute. CMS has not established that [these necessary]…elements [are] present in the MA Quality Bonus Payment Demonstration.”

In addition to questioning the legality of this “demonstration project,” the GAO has also highlighted the project’s truly extraordinary scope: The GAO notes that there have been 85 other Medicare demonstration projects conducted in the 17 years since 1995. According to the GAO, Obama’s $8.35 billion gambit will cost more than all 85 other Medicare demonstration projects combined.

Welcome to the wonderful world of politicized medicine.



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John Oliff
10 years ago

We need to quit talking and start revolting against what we clearly know is destroying the country. Don’t just wake up America. Wise up and rise up !

10 years ago

Most of what Obama has done while in office has been illegal, starting with a forged birth certificate.
And you can bet that this is just the beginning if he is re-elected

What I really want to say is “WAKE UP ROMNEY!!!”
He did a hatchet job on fellow republicans to get the nomination and now …..nothing
I think we would be better off with Newt, Allen West, or Rubio

Carmel Bailey
10 years ago
Reply to  Wanda

Rubio is not eligible to become VP because both his parents were born in Cuba. I wish they would quit using his name because it should be a moot point.

Edwin Eller
10 years ago
Reply to  Carmel Bailey

I think that everyone should remember that Obama only had one parent that was born in the U. S.
Shouldn’t that disqualify him.

10 years ago

do you think anyone in the house or senate has read the complete ObamaCare legislation. no telling what is in this document. how can our wonderful representatives vote on something they have not read – oppsl. i forgot – this was forced legislation – wonder what happened to the mentality of all of these representatives who are suppose to represent the american people. Time to contact your representative and read them the riot act and act accordingly.

10 years ago

These fees may be hidden now, but on or about January 1, 2013 (after the election!), many of these “fees”, “taxes”, or whatever else they are called, will go into effect. Seniors, hang on to your hats – Medicare costs are going to double within the next two years. All of these things are hidden in the language of the original 2000+ pages of the bill.

10 years ago

You know; we Americans are to stupid or lazy to search out the truth. To know all we can about our candidates. We have a welfare mentality. When you combine all those on welfare plus the ignorant sheeple there’s no way for an honest hard working person to win. Not to mention the corrupt government! It’s disheartening. Our children & precious grandchildren cannot survive if we continue the path we are now on. WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

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