Friday, March 26, 2010

Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Spent to Maintain Crumbling, Vacant Government Buildings

A Look at Federal Buildings Across the Nation Wasting Taxpayer Dollars


Right in the heart of Washington, D.C., sits Federal Building Number 8 -- taxpayer owned and empty since 2002. The building doesn't look like much, but the real estate couldn't be more prime. The Capitol building is so close you can see it reflected in its windows.

Jon Karl reports on the millions spent to maintain empty government buildings.
The property alone is worth $100 million but the government is not making a penny off the building -- which stretches an entire city block.

The General Services Administration (GSA) is in charge of this building and many others and says that the government vacancy rate is actually lower than the private sector's. The GSA says it has plans to renovate the building, but it has sat empty for almost a decade.

"We had to wait to get funding for design and construction from Congress, that's the way this thing works," Bob Peck, GSA commissioner of public buildings, said.

Click on title above for rest of story;

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

False Claims Act will get boost from reform

Healthcare fraud: March 24, 2010 — 2:44pm ET By Caralyn Davis

Over the past several weeks, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced several fairly significant False Claims Act (FCA) settlements with healthcare providers, and such settlements could begin arriving at warp speed in the coming years now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has strengthened the FCA, according to the Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF).

"Congress has stepped in to send a clear signal that it intends to wage a serious and protracted battle against fraud," says TAF President Jeb White. "We are especially pleased that Congressman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) recognized the need to clarify the public disclosure language of the False Claims Act in order to prevent fraud feasors from gutting meritorious cases. Congress has quite correctly decided that the U.S. Department of Justice should be the first decider when it comes to public disclosure decisions, rather than those engaged in lying, stealing and cheating U.S. taxpayers. In addition, the legislation underscores that health care providers engaged in kickbacks are also subject to the False Claims Act."

The new law provides only an extra $10 million a year to fight health fraud. However, the still-pending Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R.4872), if passed by the Senate, could increase funding for health care law enforcement by $250 million over the next 10 years.

Recent FCA settlements include the following:

Florida healthcare provider Melbourne Internal Medicine Associates P.A. (MIMA) and an individual physician will pay $12 million for allegedly submitting false claims for certain radiation oncology services to Medicare and the military's health care program, TRICARE. MIMA was accused of billing for services not supervised, duplicate and unnecessary services, services not rendered and upcoded services.

New Jersey-based Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital - Hamilton will pay $6.35 million to settle allegations that the hospital defrauded Medicare by inflating its charges to Medicare patients to obtain larger reimbursements.

Rush University Medical Center in Chicago will pay more than $1.5 million to resolve FCA allegations that the facility submitted false claims to Medicare due to leasing arrangements with physicians that violated

To learn more about the impact of the Patient Protection Act:
- read the TAF press release

To learn more about the Florida settlement:
- read the DOJ press release

To learn more about the New Jersey settlement:
- read the DOJ press release

To learn more about the Illinois settlement:
- read the DOJ press release

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