Monday, February 8, 2016
Senate report: Illegal immigrants benefited from up to $750M in ObamaCare subsidies. Wealth redistribution on display
Published February 08, 2016
Illegal immigrants and individuals with unclear legal status wrongly benefited from up to $750 million in ObamaCare subsidies and the government is struggling to recoup the money, according to a new Senate report obtained by Fox News.
The report, produced by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, examined Affordable Care Act tax credits meant to defray the cost of insurance premiums. It found that as of June 2015, “the Administration awarded approximately $750 million in tax credits on behalf of individuals who were later determined to be ineligible because they failed to verify their citizenship, status as a national, or legal presence.”
The review found the credits went to more than 500,000 people – who are illegal immigrants or whose legal status was unclear due to insufficient records.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed to FoxNews.com on Monday that 471,000 customers with 2015 coverage failed to produce proper documentation on their citizenship or immigration status on time – but stressed that this does not necessarily mean they’re ineligible.
“Lack of verification does not mean an individual is ineligible for financial assistance, but only that a Marketplace did not receive sufficient information to verify eligibility in the time period outlined in the law,” CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said.
The Senate report also accused the administration of lacking a solid plan to get that money back – and predicted that in the end, the IRS will be “unable to fully recoup the funds.”
“The information provided to the Committee by the IRS and HHS reveals a troubling lack of coordination between the two agencies ... and demonstrates that the IRS and HHS neglected to consider how they would recover these wasteful payments,” the report says.
Under the law, the feds can dole out these payments on a temporary basis if a recipient’s legal status is unclear, but are supposed to cut off funding and coverage if the recipient does not later come up with the paperwork. Up to a half-million “ineligible” people, according to the report, applied in this way -- with their credits paid in advance to the insurers. The IRS, though, is supposed to get overpayments back from the individuals themselves.
The Senate report, based on a review launched by committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., derisively describes this approach as “pay and chase.”
In other words, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pays credits and subsidies to the insurance companies on behalf of the applicants – and the feds then “chase” after any overpayments to ineligible people once they are discovered.
“This ‘pay and chase’ model has potentially cost taxpayers approximately $750 million,” the report says. The 500,000 individuals in question have been removed from coverage, according to the findings, as the government seeks to get the money back.
The Senate report says the IRS and HHS initially failed to coordinate on a plan for recouping funds, and claimed that a subsequent plan from the IRS to recoup the money is still “ineffective and insufficient.”
In a July letter to Johnson, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen assured that the agency is “committed to identifying and efficiently addressing” improper payments. He reiterated that anyone “not lawfully present” who enrolls for ObamaCare coverage “must repay” the advance premium credit payments, and would be breaking the law if they don’t.
For Bernie the government is always right and incompetence or malfeasance is a political trick. He was a fierce defender of the VA in spite of evidence of poor and non existent treatment.
Sanders First RegardedVA Wait List Scandal as Partisan Effort to Undermine Agency
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), now a Democratic presidential candidate, was slow to take seriously reports in 2014 of the use of fake wait lists by Department of Veterans Affairs employees.
As the New York Times reported, Sanders, then chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, initially indicated that the controversy was being fueled by a partisan effort to undermine the government agency.
Sanders defended the VA amid reports, which first came to light in April 2014, that staffers at the Phoenix VA hospital used secret wait lists to conceal the long periods of time that veterans were delayed before receiving care. Dozens of veterans died waiting for appointments, according to whistleblowers, and the scandal eventually led to the resignation of then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
“There is, right now, as we speak, a concerted effort to undermine the VA,” Sanders said in May 2014. “You have folks out there now–Koch brothers and others–who want to radically change the nature of society, and either make major cuts in all of these institutions, or maybe do away with them entirely.”
According to the Times, Sanders’ “deep seated faith in the fundamental goodness of government blinded him, at least at first, to a dangerous breakdown in the one corner of it he was supposed to police.”
“His ideological perspective blurred his ability to recognize the operational reality of what was happening at the V.A.,” Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America told the Times. “The reality was that he was one of the last people to publicly recognize the gravity of the situation.”
Sanders routinely cites his experience leading the VA committee as a reason for voters to support his presidential campaign.
Sanders did eventually acknowledge problems at the agency, joining his colleagues in a bipartisan effort to pass the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, which helped boost care for veterans and established the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to seek care outside of the VA in the event of significant wait times.
Despite the legislation, which President Obama signed in August 2014, significant wait times and mismanagement have persisted at VA medical facilities across the country. Just last week, an inspector general report found that veterans seeking care at a Colorado VA outpatient clinic faced excessive wait times and were denied care. In some cases, scheduling staffers used the wrong dates to make it appear that patients encountered shorter wait times.
In the face of persistent problems at the VA, veterans group Concerned Veterans for America has pushed for restructuring at the VA and allowing veterans access to more care options outside the agency’s hospitals. Sanders criticized the group for its efforts during the Democratic debate last week, accusing its leaders of trying to privatize the VA.
“Concerned Veterans of America, funded by the Koch brothers … who want to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, every governmental program passed since the 1930s,” Sanders said Thursday. “Yes, there are people out there who want to privatize VA.”
Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ competitor for the nomination, has also made similar accusations against Republicans for pushing for VA reform. Clinton said last October that issues at the VA are not as “widespread” as Republicans have made them seem.
Weeks earlier, an independent assessment commissioned by the VA concluded that its flawed network of health systems demanded a system-wide reworking.
Governor pledges veto, which supporters believe will be overturned
Coercive unionism may be coming to an end in West Virginia despite threats from Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to veto right to work legislation.
West Virginia could become the 26th right to work state in the country after the House of Delegates passed legislation on Thursday that would prevent companies from requiring union membership as a condition of employment. Delegate Gary Howell, a chief advocate for the bill, said the legislation fits into the pro-growth agenda that led Republicans to take control of the legislature in the traditionally Democratic state.
“It is good for workers in the state because we will have more jobs. We need jobs really bad here,” Howell told the Washington Free Beacon in a phone interview. “We’re going to start attracting manufacturers. Right to work is key to locating businesses.”
Not everyone in the state is as excited by the prospects of ending forced unionism. Labor groups universally opposed the legislation, as did their ally in the governor’s mansion. Tomblin pledged to veto the legislation in a Thursday release, saying that the state should focus on curbing substance abuse and spurring development key to economic recovery.
“I will veto the legislation passed today, which received bipartisan opposition but only partisan support,” he said in a statement. “I remain committed to growing West Virginia’s economy, but I do not believe right-to-work legislation is the best way to do that.”
Tomblin’s pledge, however, is unlikely to prevent the shift away from forced unionism. West Virginia only requires a majority vote from the legislature to overturn a veto. The bill passed the House 54-46 and a similar bill cleared the Senate 17-16.
West Virginia has lagged behind other states in economic recovery after losing large chunks of its traditional manufacturing base. Efforts to restrict mining by federal regulators like the Environmental Protection Agency have also harmed the state.
Howell sees right to work as a way of gaining competitive advantage over regional rivals that continue to push mandatory unionism, such as Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Ohio, in attracting business. In the past, Howell said, the state had used significant tax breaks to woo employers; labor reforms could remove the need for such tactics moving forward.
“One major criteria when a company relocates is whether the state is right to work. Before we’ve had to give away the farm on tax breaks to get them here. Now not only would we get the jobs, we would get the revenue, as well,” Howell says.
Union watchdogs said that West Virginia lawmakers will restore workers rights to make free choices in the work place. National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix called the House vote a “milestone,” as it would mark the first time since the advent of unionism that right to work states outnumbered closed-shop states in the country.
“West Virginians will no longer be required to pay tribute to a union boss just to keep their jobs, and instead every employee can decide for themselves if paying union dues is a good use of their hard-earned money,” Mix said in a release. “A West Virginia Right to Work law would not prevent any worker from joining a union; it would only prevent union bosses from being able to order a worker fired simply for refusing to financially support a union he or she does not support.”
The legislation is expected to reach Tomblin’s desk on Monday or Tuesday.
Another great piece by Kevin Williamson:
Hillary Rodham Clinton is not qualified to be president of the United States of America, because she doesn’t know what the United States of America are.Read more here.
Terry Shumaker, former U.S. ambassador to Trinidad (I wonder what that gig cost him) and current abject minion in the service of Mrs. Clinton, quotes Herself telling an audience in New Hampshire: “Service is the rent we pay for living in this great country.”
There is a very old English word for people who are required to perform service as a rent for their existence, and that word is serf. Serfdom is a form of bondage.
Americans are not serfs. We are not sharecroppers on Herself’s farm or in vassalage to that smear of thieving nincompoopery in Washington that purports to rule us.
We don’t owe you any damned rent.
The American proposition is precisely the opposite of what Herself imagines: The U.S. government exists at our sufferance, not the other way around. We have governments because there are some things that we as individuals have a hard time doing through private enterprise, and we have a federal government because there are things that the several states cannot manage separately, such as national defense and border security. (And, bang-up job on the latter, Washington.)
A president isn’t a prince, and a citizen isn’t a serf.
Herself’s invocation of serfdom is the logical extension of “You Didn’t Build That”-ism, the backward philosophy under which the free citizen is obliged to justify his life and his prosperity to the state, in order to satisfy the economic self-interest, status-seeking, and power-lust of such lamentable specimens as Elizabeth Warren, a ridiculous little scold who has never done a single useful thing in her entire public life. The American model is precisely the opposite: Government has to justify itself to us. The states created the federal government, not the other way around, and the citizens created the states, not the other way around.
We don’t owe these jackasses any service. They owe us service: services they routinely fail to perform. We’ve got jihadis shooting up California while the government doesn’t even bother to track visa overstays or properly scan entrants from Pakistan by way of Saudi Arabia (because what could possibly go wrong in that scenario?) in spite of being legally obliged to do so. Instead, the powers that be in Washington are literally masturbating the day away when they aren’t busy poisoning veterans to death with dope.
These people—these people—are going to lecture us on citizenship? How about you skip the homilies and do your damned jobs?
Sunday, February 7, 2016
Report: VA Employees used wrong dates to fake shorter waits
Colorado veterans seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs faced excessive wait times and, in some instances, denied care, according to a new watchdog report.
The VA inspector general found that dozens of veterans faced excessive wait times for care at a Colorado Springs outpatient clinic. Long wait times were covered up by scheduling staffers who used the wrong dates to make it appear that patients faced shorter wait times.
The report comes nearly two years after employees at the Phoenix VA were found to be using fake wait lists to conceal the amount of time that veterans were waiting for health care. Dozens of veterans died while waiting for the appointments, and the controversy forced then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.
According to the report released Thursday, investigators found that 288 veterans seeking specialty or primary care appointments at the PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom Outpatient Clinic faced wait times over 30 days. This amounts to 64 percent of the 450 appointments reviewed by the inspector general.
Excessive wait times ranged from 31 days to over 200 days.
Staffers are required to put veterans on the so-called Veterans Choice List, which allows them to receive care outside of the VA if they face wait times exceeding 30 days. However, the inspector general found that, for 288 veterans, staffers either did not add them to the list in a timely manner or did not add them to the list at all.
One hundred veterans were denied care because they were not added to the list.
More than one-fifth of the veterans who faced excessive wait times were not offered timely care because staffers used incorrect dates to fake shorter wait times.
“For 59 of the 288 veterans with appointments more than 30 days, scheduling staff used incorrect dates that made it appear the appointment wait time was less than 30 days,” the inspector general wrote. “Of these 59 appointments scheduled more than 30 days from the clinically indicated or preferred appointment dates, 34 were for primary care appointments and 25 were for appointments scheduled from consults.”
For most of the primary care appointments, scheduling staffers incorrectly used the date of the first available appointment as the preferred appointment date, leading the system to show the veteran waiting zero days for care. These veterans waited an average of 72 days for care, with some waiting as many as 160 days.
The report cites the example of a veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq who waited 77 days for care after requesting an appointment in November 2014. Scheduling staffers used the wrong date to produce an “erroneous zero-day wait time.”
“This report documents blatant dishonesty and corruption, and the sad truth is that this same sort of behavior is routinely tolerated across the department,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “Proof of this lies in the fact that VA has successfully fired just three employees for wait-time manipulation in the wake of a national scandal revolving around the same issue.”
The fake wait list scandal in 2014 led Congress to pass and President Obama to sign the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act to boost veterans care, a law that established the Veterans Choice Program allowing veterans to obtain care outside the VA in the event of long wait times.
Still, problems at VA hospitals nationwide have persisted, leading lawmakers to push for legislation that would allow VA Secretary Robert McDonald to remove or demote a VA employee for misconduct. Obama threatened to veto the bill last year.
“The reason these problems keep occurring throughout the department is because our dysfunctional federal civil service system makes it nearly impossible for VA to adequately discipline corrupt and incompetent employees,” Miller said in a statement.
“Compounding the situation is the fact that top VA and Obama administration leaders lack the will to even admit there’s a problem, let alone address it,” Miller said.
John Cooper, press secretary for Concerned Veterans for America, said in a statement Friday that the new report further illustrates the need for accountability at the government agency.
“It is unacceptable that hundreds of Colorado veterans were first denied VA care and then faced further delays in getting that care because of VA mismanagement. It is also unbelievable that nearly two years after the wait list scandal broke, we are still learning of instances in which VA employees, at best, don’t know how to record patient wait times, or at worst, are still manipulating those wait times to cast the VA in a more positive light,” Cooper told the Free Beacon.
“Either way, the VA desperately needs accountability, because our veterans deserve better,” Cooper said.
The military branch of Gaza's ruling organization has executed a top commander "because he violated rules and ethics." At least four Palestinians in Gaza have been sentenced to death for spying for Israel in 2016.
Hamas' paramilitary wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, on Sunday announced that it executed one of its senior commanders over "moral and behavioral violations" without going into details of what the violations were.
"The al-Qassam Brigades announced that the death penalty against its member Mahmoud Eshtawi has been applied today," the group said in a statement released Sunday.
Hamas' armed branch did not provide details into the reasons for the execution other than "the Brigades' military and Islamic judicial committee issued the sentence because he violated rules and ethics."
Eshtawi, who was detained in January 2015, reportedly supervised tunnels used to store the militant group's weapons.
Hamas has carried out executions in the Gaza Strip before, including in public squares, although Sunday's action was the first time the al-Qassam Brigades prescribed such a sentence for one of its own members.
In December 2015, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that nine death sentences were issued in the Gaza Strip in 2015, while in 2016, four death sentences were handed down to Gazans accused of spying for Israel.
Hamas seized power in 2007 after winning the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, which witnessed a violent internal conflict between the group and Fatah.
Spanish police have arrested terror suspects in the eastern provinces of Alicante, Valencia and the North African enclave of Ceuta. They say the alleged jihadists supported terror organizations in Syria and Iraq.
Spanish police on Sunday arrested at least six suspects that they say are linked to al Qaeda and "Islamic State" jihadists.
The investigation is ongoing, but Sunday's raids were the culmination of a probe that began in 2014. Police say they have evidence that those arrested provided "logistical support that was essential for the maintenance of terror activities" in Syria and Iraq.
"Four of those arrested are Spanish nationals of Syrian, Jordanian and Moroccan origin," according to a police statement.
One Syrian and one Moroccan suspect were also taken into custody. There were reports of a seventh arrest, but details of the suspect's background were not immediately clear.
Police said they are investigating "foreign structures" of the self-styled "Islamic State," which is alternatively known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh, and the Al-Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
Berlin plagued by radical left-wing violence for second night in a row. The elites have unleashed chaos.
Gangs of masked anarchists set fire to cars and threw stones in the Berlin neighborhood of Neukölln. An official has called the incident an act of terrorism.
Frank Henkel, Berlin's minister for internal affairs, condemned the violent acts committed by left-wing anarchists on Saturday night, the second night in a row the city has seen such violence.
Between 50 and 100 rioters stormed through the neighborhood of Neukölln in the early hours of Sunday morning, setting fire to 20 cars and at throwing at least one stone at a police car. The previous night, between 20 and 40 masked rioters on bicycles burned 28 cars and smashed windows in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin.
Calling the incidents "terrorist acts," Henkel said, according to the German dpa news agency, the chaotic images showed "that with leftist anarchists only destruction follows, and that they have no respect for the property of their fellow citizens."
No arrests made
Police said there were no injuries and that no arrests were made. Henkel, however, said authorities were working to located the perpetrators.
"We will not let left-wing mobs rule the streets," he said.
According to the German newspaper "Taggesspiegel," authorities were not still not sure if there was a connection between the back-to-back incidents and a left-wing "freedom demonstration" that took place in the Friedrichshain neighborhood of Berlin on Saturday, in which some 4,000 radical leftists gathered to protest against the police.
Obama and the all powerful race card doesn't need facts or reality to cheat. It's thuggery at it most basic. Mugabe would be proud.
By Paul Sperry
February 7, 2016 | 5:59am
Newly uncovered internal memos reveal the Obama administration knowingly exaggerated charges of racial discrimination in probes of Ally Bank and other defendants in the $900 billion car-lending business as part of a “racial justice” campaign that’s looking more like a massive government extortion and shakedown operation.
So far, Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reached more than $220 million in settlements with several auto lenders since the agency launched its anti-discrimination crusade against the industry in 2013. Several other banks are under active investigation.
That’s despite the fact that the CFPB had no actual complaints of racial discrimination — it was all just based on half-baked statistics.
A confidential 23-page internal report detailing CFPB’s strategy for going after lenders shows why these companies are forking over millions of dollars in restitution and fines to the government despite denying any wrongdoing.
The high-level memo, sent by top CFPB civil-rights prosecutors to the bureau’s director and revealed by a House committee, admits their methods for proving discrimination were seriously flawed from the start and had little chance of holding up in court. Yet they figured they could muscle Ally, as well as future defendants, with threats and intimidation.
“Some of the claims being made in this case present issues, such as use of [race] proxying and reliance on the disparate-impact doctrine, that would pose litigation risks meriting serious consideration prior to taking administrative action or filing suit in district court,” the Oct. 7, 2013, memo addressed to CFPB chief Richard Cordray acknowledges.
“Nevertheless,” it added, “Ally may have a powerful incentive to settle the entire matter quickly without engaging in protracted litigation.”
At the time, the Detroit-based bank was seeking permission from the Federal Reserve to remain a financial holding company. Without regulatory approval, Ally risked losing key business lines, primarily its insurance subsidiaries.
“Protracted litigation” would present “a high hurdle” to Ally retaining such status, the CFPB lawyers conspired.
‘The evidence of discrimination on the basis of race and national origin is strictly statistical’- the CFPB admitted in a footnote in a report
Prosecutors also sought to use the Community Reinvestment Act as leverage against Ally. At the time, the FDIC was reviewing the bank’s compliance with the anti- redlining law.
They huddled with FDIC and Federal Reserve officials to get them on board with their scheme; and the Fed assured them it would look favorably upon “a prompt and robust” settlement by Ally, while the FDIC confirmed that a quick resolution would help Ally pass its CRA exam.
So CFPB applied the screws to Ally, saying it had “statistical evidence” showing its participating dealers were “marking up” loan prices for blacks and Hispanics vs. whites (by an average of $3 a month). Ally fought back, insisting non-discriminatory factors, such as credit history, down payments, trade-ins, promotions and rate-shopping, explained differences in loan pricing. After conducting a preliminary regression analysis, the bank found these factors alone accounted for at least 70 percent of the “racial disparities” the government was claiming.
CFPB admits in the memo that it never considered these or other legitimate business aspects of the car deals it investigated: “Such factors were excluded as controls from the markup analysis.”
Also in its initial rebuttal, Ally complained CFPB’s entire case was based on “disparate impact” statistics, not actual complaints by consumers, and that those estimates relied on guesswork about the race of the borrowers. (The auto industry does not report borrower race, so CFPB tried to ID race by last name and ZIP code, a so-called “proxy” method that is wildly inaccurate.)
“The evidence of discrimination on the basis of race and national origin is strictly statistical,” the agency confessed in a report footnote.
Nevertheless, Ally caved and cut a deal. Prosecutors initially demanded $204 million in payola before settling on $98 million.
With Ally’s holding-company status set to expire Dec. 24, 2013, it formally settled on Dec. 20, and was reapproved by the Fed on Dec. 23, 2013.
With all these machinations hidden from public view, Cordray held a press conference to announce “the federal government’s largest auto-loan discrimination settlement in history.” He claimed that 235,000 minorities had been harmed by Ally, even though he didn’t know the race of a single borrower or whether they had actually been harmed.
“He had no idea how many actual victims there were because their whole case rested entirely on statistical estimations they admitted internally were inaccurate,” said a senior staffer for the House Financial Services Committee, which recently obtained the internal documents from CFPB.
In fact, CFPB still has not been able to definitively ID the race of any borrower it claims Ally victimized — which is why it has taken more than two years to send remuneration checks to alleged victims. Desperate to find them, the bureau recently had to mail 420,000 letters to Ally borrowers to coax at least 235,000 into taking the money, and to allow Cordray to save face.
Checks started going out this month to the fictitious victims — just in time for the election. So what if some recipients are white? They will all no doubt thank Democrats for the sudden, unexpected windfall of up to $520 in the mail.
Paul Sperry is a visiting Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “The Great American Bank Robbery,” which exposes the racial politics behind the mortgage bust.