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WASHINGTON, D.C. - How would you like to earn a gift card just for going to the doctor? This may now be a reality for a large population of Americans. "Free" is almost always a dead ringer for gift cards just for showing up to see a doctor. If you're a senior that's no longer far-fetched. The Department of Health and Human Services for the first time has permitted one Medicare provider to hand out $20 grocery gift cards for older patients that come in for medical screenings. Health care expert Joe Antos says it's a horrible idea. A precedent that incentives medical tests paid for by taxpayers.
"Let's face it, health care is a very competitive market," says Antos. "If you can find some way to get a little bit of an edge ot get more people to sign up for your plan, you are going to do better."
Up until this year, health and human services has rejected similar promotions, concerned it would violate federal anti-kickback laws. Just last year, a court found Walgreens pharmacy violated the statute, enticing Medicare and Medicaid patients with gifts. Walgreens was fined nearly $8 million. According to our investigative news partner the Washington Guardian, the government declined to release the name of the provider or which state it operates from. The facility was approved because it agreed not to advertise the free giveaway. Few concerns about fraud because beneficiaries of Medicare are often assigned by location, the feeling is few will drive long distances for $20 in groceries.
"Those bargains may not truly be bargains," says Antos. "Look into what the possible complications are of some of these screenings. Often times they are not simply matter of drawing a little bit of blood out of your arm."
While taxpayers won't pay for the gift cards, they will certainly pay the cost of more people who seek care. You can find all our WASTE WATCH stories on Fox17.com. Just go to HOT TOPICS and click on WASTE WATCH. You can also submit your ideas for WASTE WATCH stories in that same section.
Friday, March 15 2013, 10:18 PM CDT
Memphis libraries seeking funding
May 25, 2013 13:07 GMT
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The public library system in Memphis is hoping to secure $2.9 million to add employees and increase its collection.
The Memphis Daily News (http://bit.ly/19BANxH) reports the Memphis Public Library & Information Center cites the figures as part of its strategic plan.
A study by the Friends of the Library and the Memphis Library Foundation found that during the past five years, the system's budget has been cut 21 percent and hours were reduced 20 percent.
The goal of the new funding would be to add 47 employees to the 18-location library system and increase the collections budget to $2 million from less than $1 million.
Library director Keenon McCloy says the plan is a "roadmap for the future."
Information from: The Memphis Daily News, http://www.memphisdailynews.com
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