DICE Roundup 8 March

Ray Semko DICE Radio

Moscow quashes postelection protests (Washington Times)
Russian riot police arrested hundreds of protesters Monday, including prominent opposition leaders, who claimed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stole Sunday’s presidential election. Demonstrators shouted, “Russia without Putin,” as police moved into a crowd that refused to leave Pushkin Square in downtown Moscow, a short distance from the Kremlin and the seat of power in Russia. Moscow authorities had approved the demonstration and dispatched about 12,000 police officers to keep order. When the official time for the rally ended, police ordered the demonstrators to disperse. . . . . [read more]

“Putinsanity”: The Reelection of Russia’s President Should Be a Wakeup Call to the World (Brookings)
Vladimir Putin has been elected as president of Russia yet again. He already served as president twice between 2000 and 2008, and immediately thereafter eased himself into the very powerful premiership, awaiting his next term as president. Now Putin will begin yet another presidential term, expected to last six years, since the Russian constitution was amended to permit a longer presidency. If he seeks and wins reelection in 2018, Putin could be president until 2024 and effectively rule Russia for more than two decades and would have served longer than any Russian leader besides Stalin. . . . . [read more]


Dallas Doctor Arrested for Alleged Role in Nearly $375 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme (DOJ)
A physician and the office manager of his medical practice, along with five owners of home health agencies, were arrested today on charges related to their alleged participation in a nearly $375 million health care fraud scheme involving fraudulent claims for home health services. . . . In addition to the indictment, CMS announced the suspension of an additional 78 home health agencies (HHA) associated with Roy based on credible allegations of fraud against them.

Today’s enforcement actions are the result of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations, which are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT).  HEAT is a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce anti-fraud laws around the country.

“The conduct charged in this indictment represents the single largest fraud amount orchestrated by one doctor in the history of HEAT and our Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole.  “Thanks to the historic partnerships we’ve built to combat health care fraud, we are sending a clear message:  If you victimize American taxpayers, we will track you down and prosecute you.” . . . . .

. . . . . According to the indictment, Dr. Roy owned and operated  Medistat Group Associates P.A. in the Dallas area. Medistat was an association of health care providers that primarily provided home health certifications and performed patient home visits. Dr. Roy allegedly certified or directed the certification of more than 11,000 individual patients from more than 500 HHAs for home health services during the past five years.  Between January 2006 and November 2011, Medistat certified more Medicare beneficiaries for home health services and had more purported patients than any other medical practice in the United States.  These certifications allegedly resulted in more than $350 million being fraudulently billed to Medicare and more than $24 million being fraudulently billed to Medicaid by Medistat and HHAs.

“Today, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force is taking aim at the largest alleged home health fraud scheme ever committed,” said Assistant Attorney General  Breuer .  “According to the indictment, Dr. Roy and his co-conspirators, for years, ran a well-oiled fraudulent enterprise in the Dallas area, making millions by recruiting thousands of patients for unnecessary services, and billing Medicare for those services. . . . [read more]


Two Doctors And Four Nurses Among 11 New Defendants Added To Case Alleging $20 Million Home Health Care Fraud Conspiracy, Medical Kickbacks, Money Laundering, And Income Tax Evasion
CHICAGO-Two physicians and four registered nurses are among 11 new defendants who were added to a federal indictment against a suburban Chicago man who operated two home health care businesses for allegedly swindling Medicare of at least $20 million over five years, federal law enforcement officials announced today. . . . .

Drugmakers have paid $8 billion in fraud fines (USA Today)
The nation’s largest drugmakers have paid at least $8 billion in fines for repeatedly defrauding Medicare and Medicaid over the past decade, but they remain in business with the federal government because they are often the sole suppliers of critical products, records show. . . . . “We’re seeing some of the big companies a second and third time,” said Gregory Demske, assistant inspector general for legal affairs for Health and Human Services. “The corporate integrity agreement is not sufficient to deter further misconduct.” . . . .


Texas for third year warns against spring break Mexico (Reuters)
Texas on Tuesday warned residents for the third consecutive year not to travel to Mexico during the upcoming university spring break season, saying drug cartel violence and other criminal activity are a safety threat even in resort areas. . . . . The number of Americans murdered in Mexico jumped from 35 in 2007 to 120 last year, McCraw said. “Many crimes against Americans in Mexico go unpunished,” he said. Some crime in Mexico is directly related to cartel violence, and some is not, but rape is a serious problem in resort areas, said Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the Department. “Some bars and nightclubs in resort cities like Cancun, Acapulco, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and Tijuana can be havens for drug dealers and petty criminals,” Vinger said. . . . [read more]

Travel Warning for Mexico (US Department of State)


Big Michigan Lottery Winners Still Getting Food Aid (AP)
Michigan lawmakers last year vowed to crack down when they heard an $850,000 lottery winner was buying groceries with food stamps. Now comes news of another lucky player getting food on the public dime — and the Legislature still hasn’t passed a law to easily detect and clamp down on the abuse.

“We were on this already but now we have two cases. I’m hoping it will hurry us along,” state Rep. Dave Agema, a Republican from western Michigan, said Thursday. “It demonstrates the entitlement attitude we have in the United States. They want something for nothing.”

Amanda Clayton, 24, of Lincoln Park, chose a $700,000 lump sum, before taxes, last fall after winning a $1 million jackpot on “Make Me Rich!” a Michigan lottery game show. A Detroit TV station approached her this week and asked why she still was using a debit-style card to make purchases under the food-stamp program.

“I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t I thought maybe it was OK because I’m not working,” Clayton, a mother of two, told WDIV. “I feel that it’s OK because I have no income, and I have bills to pay. I have two houses.” . . . . [read more]


Senate blocks bid to speed pipeline from Canada (AP)
Under pressure from the White House, the Democratic-controlled Senate on Thursday blocked a Republican bid to speed approval of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. The 56-42 vote came after President Barack Obama called Democratic senators to lobby them to oppose the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Even so, 11 Democrats sided with Republicans to sidestep Obama’s rejection of the pipeline and allow the $7 billion project to go forward. Sixty votes were needed for approval. . . . .

The Keystone Pipeline Debacle (Maritime Executive)
. . . . The Keystone pipeline debacle shows that the ideological divide in America’s climate and energy wars has now become an insurmountable chasm. It is an all-out war with no prisoners taken, not unlike so many other cultural, social and economic issues that only nasty and protracted election campaigns can ever resolve with the winners bound to be exhausted and the losers permanently sour. For economic and energy pragmatists, the 1,700-mile TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, slated to carry 800,000 barrels per day from Canada’s Alberta tar sands to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast, was a no-brainer. Over the last decade, give or take a few barrels, the U.S. has imported about 60 percent of its 20 million barrels-per-day energy needs, a lot of it from far-away, unstable and even unfriendly regimes, such as Venezuela under Hugo Chávez. . . . .

[DICE NOTE: I highly recommend you read the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. When you read it, you will understand and recognize this next part:]

. . . . . Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, sounded quite a bit sober over the pipeline’s future: “Supplies of heavy crude from Venezuela and Mexico to U.S. refineries will soon end. If Keystone XL is continually delayed, these refiners may have to look for other ways of getting the oil they need. Oil sands producers face the same dilemma — how to get their crude oil to the Gulf Coast.” Valero, a major refiner based in San Antonio, said in a statement: “This decision is due to a small and misguided group of extremists who fail to realize that fossil fuels will continue to be consumed because they are efficient and economically viable.”

What almost no one mentioned was the elephant in the room. China would love to have Canada’s oil and then some, and they do not have Obama, Reid et al. nor do they have Hollywood starlets campaigning against oil. . . . .

“The pipeline would create thousands of private sector jobs, and it would help protect United States national security interests. It comes at no taxpayer expense, and it will strengthen vital ties with our ally Canada.” — Senator Lugar


Threats are Out There