The Clinton Administration’s new effort to put doctors in jail

by | Feb 25, 1999

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh have been asked by Clinton to travel the country, in cooperation with the American Association of Retired Persons — at government expense which may or may not be constitutional — and teach Medicare recipients how to turn their […]

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh have been asked by Clinton to travel the country, in cooperation with the American Association of Retired Persons — at government expense which may or may not be constitutional — and teach Medicare recipients how to turn their physicians in for “cheating” on Medicare, (which is like “cheating” on your taxes; you do it every time you breathe because the rules are arbitrary).

The incentive: Under the new Medicare fraud rules passed under the 1996 Kennedy-Kassebaum law, any Medicare recipient over 65 will receive $1,000 for reporting his doctor to the FBI, and also receive 30 percent of the money that the FBI seizes from the physician.

American Medical Association President Nancy Dickey offered a lukewarm opposition to the new campaign in the Wall Street Journal. Scott Holleran of a Director at Americans for Free Choice in Medicine (AFCM) wrote a poignant reply, that was published on the Wall Street Journal’s Interactive Edition on February 24:

Was Nancy Dickey’s essay (“Government to Grandpa: Rat Out Your Doctor”), supposed to defend physicians against the Clinton Administration’s latest assault on their profession?

Dr. Dickey’s timid response to Clinton’s new Fraud Squad is a broken arrow against the full artillery — including FBI Director Louis Freeh — of the anti-doctor warriors. Physicians must defend themselves against the grave threat that Mr. Clinton poses, a danger permitted by the disastrous 1996 Kennedy-Kassebaum law.

Medicare’s rules, like the Tax Code, are a myriad of contradictory regulations. Even the left-wing seniors’ group, the American Association of Retired Persons, admits fraud may be the result of a clerical error. When a physician properly bills a patient for treatment, he may violate another treatment guideline.

The Clinton Administration’s propaganda campaign is an outright war on America’s doctors. It is also insulting to patients, who ought to be left in charge of their own health care decisions. The inevitable result is the further deterioration of medicine for America’s seniors, already herded into restrictive government-subsidized managed care plans.

Putting doctors in jail for practicing medicine under arbitrary rules and paying old people to put doctors in jail is a moral outrage.

Physicians should permanently abandon the AMA and its policy of appeasement with the government that seeks to enslave doctors and instead follow the advice of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons: Quit Medicare without a tinge of guilt. The best medical minds do not perform under compulsion, wait for the FBI to throw them in jail for a billing error and pay for their own persecution.

Scott Holleran

Scott Holleran's writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Classic Chicago, and The Advocate. The cultural fellow with Arts for LA interviewed the man who saved Salman Rushdie about his act of heroism and wrote the award-winning “Roberto Clemente in Retrospect” for Pittsburgh Quarterly. Scott Holleran lives in Southern California. Read his fiction at ShortStoriesByScottHolleran.substack.com and read his non-fiction at ScottHolleran.substack.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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