Diary

New Documents List Payouts From $1.5 billion Obamacare Slush Fund

It’s a list the government has kept a tighter lid on than Hillary Clinton’s emails, but now, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, it’s public.

About a year ago the Obama administration quietly announced it was paying $1.5 billion for services it had already decided were illegally charged from health care providers.

The money went to a slew of hospitals that had over-billed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) but challenged the findings in a kind of special Medicare billing appeals court.

According to official figures, roughly 18 percent of these cases are overturned. The Obama administration paid the companies an average of 68 cents on the dollar, a figure much, much higher than they would have been expecting to receive based on precedent.

A story documenting who received the funds in trade journal Managed Care illustrates why the payments were so controversial, and so shrouded in secrecy.

Hospitals like the CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, TN, were paid more than $10 million for nearly 3,000 disputed claims, nearly 18 times the average number of disputes for each hospital.

In recent years, chafing under increased auditing, a handful of “bad actor” hospitals have clogged the appeals system with a huge number of frivolous appeals, then used the resulting delays to argue the system is broken.

Now we see that in the face of this devious ploy, the Obama administration ended up paying those same hospitals the most, despite having already decided the payments were improper.

This is just the latest instance of the Obama administration going out of its way to benefit the industries that helped enact Obamacare with beneficial regulatory decisions that are extremely lucrative to the industry.

When Democrats were trying to pass Obamacare in 2009 and 2010, the hospital industry was one of the most craven enablers in the entire health care sector. For that we have a health care system that’s about six months of bad news away from a “death spiral.” But it sure has turned out well for the owners of those companies, thanks to indefensible corruption from Obama’s political hacks.