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Competition Cuts Down Medicare Fraud

Apr 18, 2012, 6:48 pm EST
Competition Cuts Down Medicare Fraud

A pilot program that allowed competitive bidding for power wheelchairs, diabetic supplies, and other personal medical equipment saved nearly $200 million for Medicare in the past year, and reduced Medicare fraud.

The program, tested in nine cities including Miami, Cincinnati, and Riverside, Ca., differed from how Medicare usually handled these sorts of expenses. In a non-competitive system, Medicare frequently paid more than private insurers for comparable equipment and occasionally had suppliers committing Medicare fraud by ordering expensive and unneeded equipment for beneficiaries.

In the pilot program, though, a limited number of suppliers in the tested areas competed to fill orders for Medicare patients. Implemented more widely, and the government estimates that $26 billion can be saved from 2013-2022. The pilot will be expanded next year to 100 cities, with hopes for an eventual national rollout. There will also be a national mail order plan for diabetes supplies like testing strips next year. Read 

Secret Service Agents Visited Colombian Brothel

Apr 17, 2012, 6:04 pm EST
Secret Service Agents Visited Colombian Brothel

Eleven Secret Service agents visited a brothel in Colombia last Wednesday while preparing for President Barack Obama’s visit to the South American nation, according to a recently released report.

While visiting the brothel, which was located in a part of Colombia where prostitution is legal, the agents allegedly bragged about working for Obama, claimed that they protected him, drank whiskey, and hired prostitutes.

They might have gotten away with it, too, if there hadn’t been a dispute over how to settle the group’s tab. This argument spilled out into the street, which led to the police being called. Read 

Penguin Bites Gingrich During Zoo Visit

Apr 17, 2012, 5:32 pm EST

As if things weren’t already bad enough for beleaguered presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, now it seems like even Mother Nature is turning on him.

Gingrich was touring the St. Louis Zoo last Friday when he was taken behind-the-scenes to meet with two Magelllanic penguins. One of them apparently didn’t take too kindly to the former House Speaker, and bit him on the finger. Not to worry, though. The injury was minor and required only a small bandage to treat, according to a zoo spokesperson.

Why might the penguin have bitten Gingrich? Maybe it was its animal instinct, or maybe it was a supporter of gun control. Gingrich was in St. Louis last week to speak during the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting. Read 

Congress Tackles Postal Reform

Apr 16, 2012, 6:19 pm EST
Congress Tackles Postal Reform

After a lot of time spent discussing the dire straits the U.S. Postal Service is in, Congress looks poised to toss the post office a life line.

Any attempts to close the huge deficits the postal service has run in recent years are bound to be painful, though. With losses surpassing $5.1 billion last year, there’s a lot of red ink to clean up. Congress is also in a bit of a no-win situation. If they do nothing to alleviate the deficit by May 15, the day that a moratorium on closing postal facilities expires, the current Postmaster General has stated he will close 223 postal plants.

Still, any solution Congress comes up with will likely involve some facilities closing. In addition, they hope to buy out some employees’ contracts, cut worker compensation benefits, and end Saturday service in two years’ time. A bill that passed a Senate committee in November would also allow the post office to join competitors like FedEx (NYSE:FDX) and UPS (NYSE:UPS) in shipping beer, wine, and liquor through the mail. Tens of thousands of jobs would likely be cut in the process. Read 

Poll: Most Americans Support Buffett Rule

Apr 13, 2012, 5:36 pm EST
Poll: Most Americans Support Buffett Rule

As discussion of the so-called Buffett Rule continues, one thing remains clear: many Americans agree with President Barack Obama’s assertion that households earning more than $1 million a year should pay at least a 30% tax rate.

A Gallup poll released today showed 60% of Americans favored the proposal, while only 37% were opposed to it. Along party lines, 74% of Democrats approved of it while 24% disapproved, while Republicans opposed the rule by a 54-43% ratio. Independents, though, favored the proposal by a 63-33% margin.

The elephant in the room, of course, is that the bill containing this proposal, the Paying a Fair Share Act, has little chance of getting past the Republican-led House of Representatives. Much like the recently passed Ryan budget, the Buffett Rule is more of a line in the sand drawn to differentiate Democrats from Republicans than it is a bill that has any real chance of making a difference in this election year. Read 

INTERVIEW: Buffett Rule a ‘Fair Share’?

Apr 13, 2012, 8:12 am EST
INTERVIEW: Buffett Rule a ‘Fair Share’?

On Monday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the “Paying a Fair Share Act,” commonly known as the Buffett Rule, which would require people earning more than $1 million per year to pay at least a 30% federal tax rate.

However, the “lower” taxes these high-earners currently pay aren’t necessarily cut-and-dry, and the concept of whether they aren’t a “fair share” is up for debate.

InvestorPolitics recently took a few minutes to talk to Brad Badertscher, Assistant Professor of Accountancy at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and an expert on tax liabilities of private equity firms, about the taxation of the “1%,” several aspects of the Buffett Rule and the consequences of its passing. Here’s what he had to say. Read 

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