President Obama has repeatedly demonstrated that there’s an extra special place in his heart for incarcerated criminals, but this is a bit much. The administration spends a lot more money on the medical care of jailed convicts than retired seniors on Medicare, active U.S. military personnel or veterans, including an extra $100 million in one year alone, according to a federal audit released this month.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) consistently pays outside doctors and hospitals more to treat inmates than Medicare or other federal agencies would pay for the same services, according to the report which is the result of a Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General investigation. “We found that the BOP is the only federal agency that pays for medical care that is not covered under a statute or regulation under which the government sets the agency’s reimbursement rates, usually at the Medicare rate,” the report states. “Instead, the BOP solicits and awards a comprehensive medical services contract for each BOP institution to obtain outside medical services.”
This means the BOP negotiates its own rates for medical services, which is outrageous and ends up costing American taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually. Without the cost regulations that apply to all other federal agencies, the BOP pays a premium above applicable Medicare rates for medical care. In fiscal year 2014, for instance, the BOP spent at least $100 million more for medical care than it would have if it had paid Medicare rates. Other law enforcement agencies, including those within the DOJ like the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), stay within the Medicare rates to provide outside medical services for individuals in their custody. So does the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Indian Health Service to treat members of the military and their dependents, veterans and Native Americans.