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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
Man pleads guilty to Memphis officer's murder
May 21, 2013 22:22 GMT
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- A former death row inmate is set to be released from prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of a Memphis police officer.
Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said Tuesday that she has accepted Timothy McKinney's guilty plea.
McKinney was convicted of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Officer Don Williams. The officer was killed outside a comedy club in December 1997.
McKinney appealed and won a new trial, which ended with a deadlocked jury. A third trial earlier this year also ended in a hung jury.
The Commercial Appeal reports that McKinney was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Since he's already served more than 15 years -- including 11 on death row -- McKinney will be released this week.
Williams' family opposed the settlement.
BC-US--Dow Record-Three Personal Stories, 1st Ld-Writethru,1173
Dow Record: Three tales of ups, downs and changes
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By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- When the Dow first crossed 14,000, investors were overjoyed. ...
IN THE NEWS: iPHONE RECOVERED AFTER THEFT IN OREGON
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- George Washington University students will soon be walking all over the White House and the Capitol, too.