A new report from the Department of Justice’s inspector general is raising questions about the Obama White House’s handling of the Medicare fraud scandal.
In a new report obtained by MSNBC, the inspector general revealed that in 2009 and 2010, the Obama Justice Department repeatedly refused to provide documents to the Senate that would show that Medicare fraud was a major cause of the massive rise in Medicare costs that began in 2006.
That meant that the Obama Administration was effectively hiding from Congress, the public, and the Congress itself that it had been engaged in a fraudulent scheme to cover a massive increase in Medicare cost.
The Inspector General’s report said the Justice Department has not provided the Senate with the documents it requested.
In the inspector’s report, which was released on Thursday, Inspector General James Cole said he is concerned that the Justice Departments refusal to provide records to Congress about its “fraudulently structured and mismanaged” effort to cover Medicare fraud may have led to the inflated costs that resulted from the fraud.
“The Department of Health and Human Services has failed to provide a complete accounting of its mismanaged and fraudulent Medicare fraud scheme in order to protect the public from further financial harm,” Cole wrote.
The inspector general’s report also found that the department’s failure to provide the Senate documentation was not limited to Medicare fraud.
The Department had also withheld records about its attempt to force the Obama-appointed administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to approve a $8 billion contract to run the Medicare Advantage program, which covers Medicare Advantage plans for Medicare patients and beneficiaries.
The Inspector General noted that the contract, known as the Medicare Extension Program, was signed by a single Obama Administration official, the newly appointed administrator, and a single HHS official.
The inspector general also found documents that show that the Department also refused to disclose to Congress the information that would have prevented a significant increase in costs for Medicare.
In addition, the Inspector General found that in one case, the Department’s Inspector General failed to inform Congress that the Office of the Inspector general, which the Obama Department of Veterans Affairs is part of, had conducted a review of the Office’s use of taxpayer dollars to cover the fraudulent scheme.
The report said that, in addition to failing to provide Congress with the information it requested, the Justice department also failed to make available to Congress documents that would “confirm that the government has complied with its obligations under the law and its policies in response to the fraud, including its obligation to reimburse taxpayers for fraudulent payments.”
“This investigation also highlights a pattern of deliberate withholding of documents by the Department in an effort to protect fraudulent schemes, and is inconsistent with the Departments stated intent to provide transparency to the public regarding the Departmentwide fraud investigation,” Cole said.
“It is unacceptable that the Secretary has refused to allow the Inspector Gen report to be released and for the Department to have access to any documents that will demonstrate the extent of its involvement in the fraud.”
Cole’s office has been working with the Inspector Generals Office of Inspector General since January 2017 to investigate how the Obama DOJ handled the fraud scandal and to review its oversight of the department.
In September 2017, the IG announced a “reopening” of the probe.
The IG said the review was “the result of a request from the Senate Select Committee on Veterans Affairs,” and that it would begin an independent review in 2018.
The IG report comes at a critical time for the Obama Veterans Affairs Department, as it has been under attack from Republicans in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail over the botched rollout of the new health care law, and over the administration’s refusal to take responsibility for the problems.
In August, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to the department, saying that the report’s findings “should prompt the department to come clean about its mismanagement and its refusal to admit responsibility for Medicare fraud.”
“It is our view that the lack of transparency and accountability in this matter is not only harmful to the veterans, but also to our nation and the taxpayers who provide these services,” the letter said.
The House Oversight Committee, which is currently investigating the Obama VA scandal, also released a report in March that found that Obama DOJ officials “were involved in misleading the Senate about their role in the fraudulent Medicare Fraud scheme and were responsible for the failure of the VA to fully disclose that they had approved the fraud scheme.”