Friday, November 13, 2015

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, November 13, 2015

Mr. Friggin' Eclectic...

THAT'S ME...!!!

Here... to start your weekend... just IMAGINE this...

A Zumba class...

BILL... in a Zumba class...

BILL screaming out the chorus...



We're talking FULL friggin' volume...



William R. Barker said...

For federal state and local law enforcement agencies, a little-known practice giving them the power to take Americans’ property, cash, and cars has proven to be a boon over the last decade.

According to a new report from the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm, the federal government has seen a substantial increase over the last 13 years in the amount of money deposited into forfeiture funds governed by the Departments of Justice and Treasury — the two federal agencies that typically conduct forfeitures.

In 2014, the Institute for Justice found that net assets, or what’s left over after expenditures, into the agencies’ forfeiture funds reached $4.5 billion — an increase of more than 4,600 percent from 1986, when the Justice Department’s fund was first created.

Net assets in the Justice Department’s and Treasury Department’s forfeiture funds first topped $1 billion in 2007 and have moved upward steadily over the last seven years.

“One of the most basic economic principles is that incentives matter, and they matter not just to individuals but also to groups,” the Institute for Justice wrote in its report. “In allowing agencies to keep some or all of what they forfeit, civil forfeiture laws permit, if not encourage, law enforcement to police for profit. And agencies have responded with zeal.”

Civil forfeiture is a tool that gives law enforcement the power to seize cash, cars, and houses if they are suspected of being related to a crime.


Originally, the tool was viewed as a way to combat drug trafficking and money laundering. However, as law enforcement budgets have become increasingly strapped for cash — and forfeiture proceeds have increased — civil forfeiture has been dubbed “policing for profit” by critics.

In recent years, a growing number of stories have arisen involving innocent Americans who had property forfeited yet were never charged with a crime.

Additionally, civil forfeiture has been called a “gold mine” and “pennies from heaven” by the very law enforcement officials who benefit from the proceeds of cash, cars, and property forfeited.

“Giving law enforcement a financial stake in civil forfeiture distorts law enforcement priorities,” the Institute for Justice wrote in its report. “Allowing law enforcement agencies to reap financial benefits from forfeitures encourages the pursuit of property over the impartial administration of justice.”

* YA THINK...?!?!

Law enforcement’s ability to keep the proceeds from cash, vehicles, and houses seized has provided police and prosecutors with a direct profit incentive, the group warned. “These allowances represent a significant opportunity for agencies to self-fund through civil forfeiture, and evidence suggests that agencies are taking full advantage,” the group said in its report.

William R. Barker said...

* TWO-PARTER... (Part 1 of 2)

A little-known whistleblower lawsuit accuses Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa of wrongly siphoning millions of American taxpayer dollars with a series of complicated billing schemes aimed at increasing profits.

Among other dishonest practices, a former manager of the clinics alleges, Planned Parenthood staffers routinely purchased birth control pills for just under $3, billed Medicaid $35 for the same package of pills, and got reimbursed for $26.

The lawsuit, brought by Sue Thayer, a 17-year employee of Planned Parenthood in Iowa, coincides with a national scandal over undercover videos that show the organization’s officials in other states talking about the sale of body parts from aborted babies.

In her suit, Thayer alleges multiple accounts of fraud, waste, and abuse in the Iowa clinics that add up to nearly $28 million.

From April 1991 to December 2008, Thayer managed Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Storm Lake, Iowa. From 1993 to 1997, she also was center manager of the clinic in LeMars, Iowa. The two locations since have been consolidated into Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Thayer says she was fired at the end of 2008 after raising concerns about “webcam abortions” — a controversial practice that allows Planned Parenthood doctors to dispense abortion-inducing pills to clients remotely using video-conferencing equipment.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland calls Thayer a “disgruntled former employee.” In an email to The Daily Signal, it said: “We deny those allegations and have no other statement to make on that case.”

Thayer maintains she’s anything but disgruntled. She continues to move forward with her lawsuit, and she testified before Congress in October about her experience inside the nation’s largest abortion provider.

“I really feel like, as a taxpayer, as a mom, as a lover of life, it’s my job to try to shed light on what goes on in there,” Thayer told The Daily Signal in an exclusive interview. “I know they’re not being honest.”

By privately negotiating a deal with Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, a birth control prescription manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Thayer said the Iowa clinics were able to purchase birth control pills for $2.89 per 28-day cycle.

In late October, The Daily Signal emailed both Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo and Janssen to confirm these numbers, but neither has responded.

Thayer then said Planned Parenthood of the Heartland would bill Medicaid $35 for each birth control package and be reimbursed about $26 by Iowa Medicaid authorities.

When a patient on Medicaid seeks treatment at one of Planned Parenthood’s more than 600 locations, the organization bills Medicaid on that patient’s behalf.

Medicaid programs use what are called “open fee schedules” to set compensation levels for prescriptions such as birth control.

According to Iowa Medicaid’s current open fee schedule, providers such as Planned Parenthood are allowed to be compensated $25.36 for each package of contraceptives (or 92 cents a pill).


William R. Barker said...

* CONCLUDING... (Part 2 of 2)

Casey Mattox, a senior attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom who represents Thayer, called the alleged profits Planned Parenthood of the Heartland made from birth control subscriptions “unusual.” “Medicaid providers, particularly non-profits, usually don’t make money off their Medicaid patients,” Mattox said in an email to The Daily Signal. “But Planned Parenthood is unlike most nonprofit Medicaid providers in that its own annual reports show $127 million in profit last year and $765 million profit over the last decade.”

Ed Haislmaier, an expert in health care policy and markets at The Heritage Foundation, said Planned Parenthood’s unique structure increases the opportunity for fraud.

The more birth control Planned Parenthood of the Heartland prescribes to clients, the greater profit the clinic may make. Thayer says her employer took full advantage of this opportunity by using a program called “C-Mail.”

In an effort to increase the bottom line, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland used “C-Mail” (short for contraceptive mail) to prescribe birth control to women and ship it by mail, Thayer told The Daily Signal.

C-Mail began as a voluntary program where women could opt in, but Thayer said in court documents: “Planned Parenthood of the Heartland management concluded it could dramatically increase its revenues by converting the [previously] voluntary or ‘opt-in’ C-Mail program to a mandatory program.”

The Iowa clinics where she worked did so by eliminating follow-up examinations and mailing each client at least a 12-menstrual-cycle supply of contraceptives in three-month increments. Typically, 28 pills come in a single birth control package, which equals 84 pills over three months. To increase profits, Thayer alleges, Planned Parenthood began sending three prescriptions to clients every 63 days, “so there’s a 21-day overage.”

By the end of 2008, Thayer said in the lawsuit, at least 7,000 Medicaid-eligible women were enrolled in the C-Mail program. If any of those women moved or refused the pills, she said, the pills would come back in a “brown mailer.” “We’d open them up, return them to inventory, put a new sticker on them and sell them to the next patient that came in without ever crediting the first woman’s account,” Thayer said. In doing so, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland “effectively [was] billing Iowa Medicaid and/or Iowa Family Planning Network at least twice for the same [birth control pills],” Thayer claimed in the lawsuit.

In addition to overbilling Medicaid for birth control subscriptions, Thayer said Planned Parenthood of the Heartland would ask patients — including Medicaid clients — to contribute at least $10 as a “donation” for each package of birth control pills, despite knowing that Medicaid fully covered the prescription for low-income patients.

For other services the Heartland clinic provided, Thayer said in the suit, employees “strongly suggested” that Medicaid clients pay “50% of the bill,” never telling them “the entire amount of the bill for family planning services rendered would be fully reimbursed.” The former Planned Parenthood director also said these donations never were reported to Iowa Medicaid while her Iowa clinics were being reimbursed for birth control and other services.