‘Staggering’ Amounts of Federal Funds Improperly Distributed

By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) – Tax credits for families that don’t qualify. Medicare payments for treatments that might not be necessary. Unemployment benefits for people who are secretly working. Federal agencies reported making $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them. Congressional investigators say the figure could be even higher. “The amounts here are absolutely staggering,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. “It’s over $100 billion each of the last …

Skipping Out on Student Loans? Check Your Wallet

So what can Uncle Sam do if you don’t repay your federal student loans?   Report you to credit reporting companies. Garnish your wages. Keep your tax refunds and Social Security payments until the debt is paid off.   That’s right, all of the above.  Only most people aren’t aware of it. Economists and researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York asked this of more than 1,000 consumers – only to discover that less than one-third of them correctly answered that the …

Defaults Rise in Parent PLUS Loans

Parents who’ve taken out federal student loans to help pay for their children’s college education are increasingly finding themselves in serious financial trouble. Default rates on Parent PLUS loans have tripled in the last few years, according to federal data released this month. Some 5.1 percent of loans that originated in the 2010 fiscal year were in default three years later, according to U.S. Department of Education data released last week. Default rates were highest, at 13.3 percent, for Parent …

Medicare Patients Now Can Do a Check-Up on Doctors

In a major data release this morning, Medicare shared information on $77 billion in payments to more than 880,000 health care providers. Consumers for the first time can look up doctors, find out the number of procedures they have performed and how much Medicare paid. This is one piece of the puzzle for determining the overall value of care being delivered. The information, from 2012 Medicare Part B payments, already has generated some eye-popping articles, with reports of one Florida ophthalmologist receiving …

Medicare Database Reveals Top-Paid Doctors

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Serdar Tumgoren, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) – Medicare paid a tiny group of doctors $3 million or more apiece in 2012. One got nearly $21 million. Those are among the findings of an Associated Press analysis of physician data released Wednesday by the Obama administration, part of a move to open the books on health care financing. Topping Medicare’s list was Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, whose relationship with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), made headlines last year …

GlaxoSmithKline Ends Payments to Doctors

Pharmaceutical companies make lots of money and spend lots of money, including lavish payments to doctors for consulting; expenses-paid conferences, cruises and other events for doctors; and bonuses for sales reps who exceed sales targets, even if that means pitching a drug for uses the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved. Over the past three years, the investigative journalists at the nonprofit ProPublica, along with its news media partners, have been writing about these practices in the series Dollars for Doctors …