Sunday, November 5, 2017

Time to see how much Money Scott Walker lost, wasted or turned away from Wisconsin's Taxpayers?

Wisconsinites have given up a lot for the current $579 million "surplus:" a massive abandonment of centuries worth of taxpayer investments in public services like parks, the University of Wisconsin, clean recreational/drinking water, and road maintenance and replacement.

Wisconsinites have given up another $800 million of our own federal taxes on high-speed rail, resulting in state taxpayers forking over tens of millions to do rail/maintenance work instead, not to mention all the missed development along the rail line.

Wisconsinites have given up $23 million in federal grants of our own money aimed at delivering broadband to schools and libraries. Now state taxpayers are footing that bill.

I'm hoping some investigative news organization will take a look at the gigantic amount of money Scott Walker has wasted or lost the state, which might just dwarf any savings we have seen so far.

Repealing the False Claims Act! Thank you Big Business: After reading this story in the Wisconsin State Journal, it's clear Republicans have no intentions of saving "hard-working" taxpayers money, or for that matter, being good "fiscal conservatives." Absolute bullshit (yea, this pissed me off).

And it looks like Walker is saving money on Medicaid by putting up draconian roadblocks those who need it, instead of any real concern over actual fraud within the system:
It is a glaring exception to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s crusade aimed at eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in state government ... taxpayers have missed out on an estimated $11 million in additional settlement money from companies found to have defrauded the Medicaid program since 2013 ... if legislators and Walker had not weakened and then repealed the state False Claims Act.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism using methodology endorsed by Taxpayers Against Fraud, a nonprofit organization that advocates for whistleblowers and government efforts to root out fraud (came up with the figures) ... The state Department of Justice declined to estimate the loss.
That's right, the state Justice Department didn't care about the fraudulent losses.
Asked in an email why Walker repealed the law, spokesman Tom Evenson did not address the question but instead highlighted the governor’s efforts to root out fraud and waste in Medicaid and FoodShare, which he said have saved taxpayers an estimated $150 million. “The bottom line is that Medicaid fraud continues to be investigated and detected,” Evenson said. Evenson also did not respond to an offer to have the state estimate the losses from the repeal of the False Claims Act.
Big Business Special Interests Wrongdoing not as bad as Liberal "Bounty Hunter" Attorneys:
The law had awarded whistleblowers and their attorneys up to 30 percent of penalties when companies were caught defrauding the state’s Medicaid program. The national average in such cases is much less, however — about 16 percent.

Business groups, which pushed Walker and the Legislature to repeal Wisconsin’s law, derisively refer to such whistleblowers and their attorneys as “bounty hunters.”
But False Claims are False Claims...Right? EpiPen settlement...NOT:
In October, Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel announced the state will receive $3.4 million of a nationwide settlement against the makers of EpiPen for allegedly underpaying rebates to Medicaid, which is funded by the state and federal governments. “Mylan just discovered taking advantage of taxpayers comes at a high price,” Schimel said.

But the price Mylan will pay is tilted more toward reimbursing the federal government than giving money back to Wisconsin taxpayers, thanks to the repeal of the state False Claims Act in the 2015-17 state budget. That decision made Wisconsin ineligible for a larger share of the settlement, resulting in an estimated $695,430 less for the state in the EpiPen settlement, said Patrick Burns, associate director of Taxpayers Against Fraud.

Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, said Wisconsin is the only state to repeal its False Claims Act, a distinction he believes makes it one of the worst states in the country for whistleblowers.
Again, it's not about saving taxpayers money, but saving businesses money:
Over the past 30 years, 88 percent of fraud cases brought on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which runs Medicaid, were filed by whistleblowers ... brought in more money than those launched by the government. 

Efforts by former Democratic Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager to recoup millions of dollars for the state for other alleged prescription drug overbillings also have been thwarted — at least for now — by repeal of the act. A Dane County Circuit Court judge ruled in May that Lautenschlager’s lawsuit against a group of pharmaceutical companies cannot proceed because it was filed after the Legislature repealed the state False Claims Act — although the alleged behavior occurred years earlier, from 2002 through 2011. Lautenschlager filed the case as a private citizen ... has appealed that decision. The defendant drug companies argue ... such whistleblower cases are now barred in Wisconsin.

But AG Schimel has declined to participate in the litigation. That means Lautenschlager and Bach must bear the cost — and the risk — of pursuing the case.

Schimel spokesman Johnny Koremenos said it “disagreed with the merits of the claim. Even if the claims were meritorious and not stale and old, the state would still be entitled to at least 70 percent of the proceeds even after declining. The state would have had little to gain from intervening in this lawsuit.”

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