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CMS and the Budetti Blunders

Senators Orrin Hatch and Tom Coburn have raised some concerns about a multimillion dollar anti-fraud command center opened up today.  Complete with a giant screen estimated to have cost hundreds of thousands, the center will house the HHS’ infamous $77 million dollar computer system which, as of last Christmas, had stopped one check for $7,591.  Peter Budetti, the Deputy Administrator of Program Integrity at the CMS(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), a.k.a. the fraud czar, said that the center is expected to pay for itself many times over, repeating an old justification for a contract with Northrop Grumman that was also supposed to result in advances against fraud.  He actually had the “chutzpah” (this is a legal term of art) to say that the CMS could learn something from the private sector.  Perhaps when the private sector does business with itself there may be efficiencies, but, when the private sector does business with the public sector, the government gets robbed like an electronics store during a New York City blackout.  In any event, companies like Northrop Grumman are anything but private; take away the government contracts and their cash flow is about the same as a nine year old’s lemonade stand.  All this goes to show that Budetti may be better served by finding an honest nine year old – hopefully not one of Senator Hatch’s grandkids-for a government contract!

As Groucho Marx said, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.”

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