Sunday, February 27, 2011

UnitedHealth under federal scrutiny in Hawaii over possible Medicare scam

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I reported on January 23 that a Kauai family claimed to have been duped by an employee of UnitedHealth into changing to the company's Medicare plan.

By February 8, federal Medicaid regulators from CMS were involved in the investigation.

This is only the latest in a long line of federal formal and informal audits, oversight and investigations plaguing Hawaii's Medicaid program since the fall of 2009.  In addition to CMS, the DHHS Office for Civil Rights, the FBI/DOJ and even the federal Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education have all been involved.

I could understand why Lingle and Koller kept all this from the public.  They had built here in Hawaii a perfect Republican dream of how Medicaid should function under privatization, and small problems like deaths, let alone violations of federal laws, were just pesky details.

But where does our new Democratic governor stand with all this?  He seemed to promise an end to privatized Medicaid, but now is letting privatized Medicaid draft state legislation.

Meanwhile, life and death decisions continue to be made daily by people motivated more by profit than medical need.  

Governor Abercrombie, respectfully, you need to step in and put a stop to this before anyone else can be hurt.  Only you and the Feds can do that right now.  And you need to come clean with your voters about the state's dirty laundry and what you're going to do to wash it.

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I'm the mom of a child with disabilities. Hannah's first neurologist said she might never develop beyond the level of a 2 month old infant, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. The brain damage was just too severe. Nine years later, she walks, uses a touchscreen computer and I've just been shown she can learn to construct sentences and do simple math with the right piece of technology. Along the way, I discovered I needed to teach myself what Hannah's rights to services really were. Learning about early intervention services led to reading about IDEA and then to EPSDT. I've been waiting for the Obama administration to realize the power and potential of EPSDT for the medical rights - including the right to stay at home with their families - of children with disabilities. The health reform people talk about long term care, and the disability people talk about education and employment, but nobody is talking about EPSDT. So I am.