There are 78 inspectors general toiling away in major federal departments and independent agencies, tasked with exposing waste, fraud and abuse in government.
Few of the IGs become public figures, even when, like Daniel Levinson, they and their staff have saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the years.
Levinson is the IG at the Department of Health and Human Services, which means his first job is fighting Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
Dollars for dead docs
Two new reports from Levinson this week cast a disturbing spotlight on the depth and durability of corruption in federal health care spending.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., himself a medical doctor and the Senate's most devoted advocate of federal spending reforms, summarized what Levinson found:
"The reports show Medicare wasted $23 million in care on the deceased in 2011, $25 million on dead doctors between 2009-2011, and $29 million for prescription drugs to more than 4,000 unlawfully present beneficiaries between 2009-2011."
Really? 'Only' $77 million?
In a $3.5 trillion annual federal budget with a deficit of nearly $700 billion, a mere $77 million might seem like pittance.
But consider just a few things that $77 million could have been spent on instead of dead doctors and other corpses:
— $10,000 education scholarships for 7,700 at-risk kids to give them real hope for escaping inner-city poverty and crime to live rewarding, productive lives.
— 2.2 million flu shots for elderly people most vulnerable to death from the illness (at the $35 retail charge reported by Bloomberg for walk-ins at a commercial pharmacy like Walgreens).
— Provide luxury apartments for a year for 3,208 homeless people (at $2,000 per month rent for 12 months).
Little imagination is required to think of countless other more productive uses for the $77 million scattered about in federal payments to the dead.
Coburn and Levinson have been highlighting chronic Medicare and Medicaid waste for years. As the Oklahoma senator said:
"Every individual wrongfully awarded benefits, be it the deceased or undocumented, diverts scarce resources away from those who need it most."
But the federal bureaucracy just keeps churning out those errant checks. That's the same bureaucracy that is running the Obamacare program.
In today's Washington Examiner
Washington Examiner Magazine: How JFK's assassination changed American politics forever.
Susan Ferrechio: Only six Obamacare enrollments on healthcare.gov rollout's first day.
David M. Drucker: Senate Democrats wary of Obama promises to fix healthcare.gov.
Joel Gehrke: Sen. Lindsey Graham to introduce abortion pain measure.
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The Washington Post: Tech leaders demand curbs on NSA.
The New York Times: A test in Alabama of business efforts to derail the Tea Party.
USA Today: Obama tilts federal judiciary toward Democrats.
ABC News: Teens are leaving Facebook to go where?
NBC News: The real Dracula was a really bad guy.
Houston Chronicle: Federal appeals court reinstates Texas abortion restrictions.
Talking Points Memo: What really happens to people whose health insurance is cancelled?
Mother Jones: A century of racist sports names.
The Nation: Why it's always been time to legalize marijuana.
The Weekly Standard: A debacle for liberalism.
National Review Online: Learning from a long October.
Instapundity/Glenn Reynolds: Relevance for immigration?