Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reform the System, Don't Blame Low-Income People: More than $98 billion in improper gov't payments - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – More than $98 billion in taxpayer dollars spent by government agencies was wasted, much of it on questionable claims for tax credits and Medicare benefits, representing an increase of $26 billion from the previous year.

In all, about 5 percent of spending in federal programs in fiscal year 2009 was improper....Saying the overall error rate was similar in 2008, officials attributed the $26 billion jump to some changes in how to define improper spending as well as an increase in overall spending due to the recession.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign an executive order within the next week aimed at cracking down on government waste and fraud, particularly in Medicare and other benefit programs.....The government officially reported questionable Medicare payments of roughly $36 billion, but that amount will be revised upward to about $48 billion next year as the Health and Human Services Department fully converts to a new methodology that imposes stricter documentation requirements.

Somebody needs to reform the system. Social workers for Food Stamps etc have to deal with book after book of conflicting Medicaid rules. Rewrite the rules, and quit punishing low-income people for what the ripoff artists do. It's not a crime to be low-income, and most low-income people are honest. The media paints us all as crooks and drug addicts [sigh]. I know of plenty of people who should've gotten Social Security Disability, and the process was just too hard for them. It looks very good politically to blame the ones who can't fight back - the disabled who are sick, the dying, the mentally ill. You've heard of dual-eligibles and how Congress wants to write us all off. Take a good look at my profile picture. I am a dual-eligible. I have never ripped off the government or tried to get anything I didn't need. Most of my friends who are on Medicaid haven't.

It's time for the news media and the government to quit blaming low-income people for the government's accounting woes. If the government's accounting systems were regulated like the government regulates big business, there wouldn't be these problems. The US Government needs to quit operating on a bare-bones staff and use the same rules for itself that it imposes on business. Run the government like a business and stop blaming the low-income. We didn't start the problem, and we aren't the ones who can help stop it.

Government is supposed to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Governments build roads, set policies that help businesses grow, stop businesses from unfair work policies and monopolies, and basically help us. But, our infrastructure is crumbling, health care is sky high, businesses can't stay open, and everyone's trying to cut costs. I think these improper payments are a symptom that government has let go too many employees, not that low-income people are ripping the system off. Yes, there are those who commit fraud. It's not all low-income people. This "punish the whole room just 'cause one kid misbehaves" type of policy doesn't work. It just builds resentment. It's time for government, all the way to public schools, to breed a new respect for all people, not just the ones who can keep working, not just the ones who can stay in school long enough to succeed, but for all. Most of the people I know who receive benefits do so because their health failed. This is the basis for being low-income, in my eyes. Fix the health care crisis, and a lot of these low-income folks might not BE low-income. Fix the impossible attendance requirements in work and school. They discriminate against all those with health problems.

Stop pushing parents to make their children do these awful homework quotas. Kids are pushed by parents to attend school when they are sick. Why? Because schools get money based on attendance. It probably is some requirement of OSHA that workplaces can't give leave without pay when people like me could've kept on working years longer if that requirement hadn't been there. Ask any doctor. Health is not something that's black and white, that is something you have or don't have. It is a continuum from more to less healthy. Some people are genetically healthier than others. For people like me who joke about the 'virus of the day', it's really not funny. I did fine when my junior high school gave us 30 days we could be absent, out of 180. I was really sick, those 30 days. When I went to high school, they had a 20-day requirement. I couldn't do it. I ended up being out of school a month on the Homebound program because my doctor wanted to do tests. They found Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. When I went back to school, I still had to deal with the attendance policy. I was a good student, but a sick one. If attendance was like it is now, I wouldn't have made it and I don't know what would've happened. I am college-educated, but again, the attendance policies are the main reason I didn't get my four-year degree. I did make senior standing.

If you read my older posts, you saw my take on public schools. There is a lot the government could do to help the low-income that it is not doing. What mother working two jobs has time to get a doctor's excuse every time her sickly child gets a virus? Why bother the doctor with something he can't cure? Antibiotics won't help a cold, and sometimes, a bad cold will make it impossible for the child to get up and go. My daughter threw up every time she got a temp. Have you ever talked to a teacher who wants a vomiting child in her classroom?! I sure never met one. When Maggie got sick and needed to stay home, I stayed with her, caught it from her, and I missed time from work. And, I got a lot of static from Personnel. I used up all my vacation time for sick leave. You see, I have been sick all my life. I know the pain of not being able to do anything from the President's Physical Fitness Program but the 50 sit ups. I couldn't do ONE pull-up. I finished the 350-yard Run-Walk second to last - the girl who was last had a bad heart and could not run at all finished last. PE was torture. In 8th grade, they got tired of scraping me off the floor and let me take Office. That was the greatest blessing of my whole young life! PE was a source of anguish, it separated me from everyone, and it was the only course I ever made a C in. In 7th grade, though, I made straight A's. PE was a LOT harder the next year for reasons I can't understand. We had to wear uniforms, and there was one of us whose parents' religious beliefs forbade a girl to wear pants. She probably also had the stigma I had.

More media attention needs to focus on the homeless, those at risk of being homeless, and the plight of those who can't get jobs. The media needs to give a lot of attention to real people who are getting services, who are going to be homeless without Social Security benefits, who would be homeless without public housing. Let the government fix its accounting problems before pointing a finger of blame at me, and everyone like me. We low-income people are American Citizens. Freedom is a privilege. So are our low-income benefits. It's not a given. There are problems. But, America needs to know that low-income people are gettting a bad rep. The media needs to quit attacking us. You want to interview someone who is low income? I'm waiting.

What was President Herbert Hoover supposed to do when people were starving? We have Social Security because people were dying. People were living in cardboard boxes called "Hooverviles".

Posted via web from Dannis' Posterous From DanniStories

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