Medicare fraud conviction in the millions

medicare fraud

A federal jury on Thursday convicted a Bowie, Md., couple of orchestrating a multi-year campaign to defraud D.C. Medicaid of more than $80 million between 2009 and 2014, the largest local health-care fraud scheme ever prosecuted in the city.

After a four-week trial in federal district court in the District, the jury deliberated two days before convicting Florence Bikundi, 52, of four counts of health-care and Medicaid fraud and conspiracy, and her husband, Michael D. Bikundi Sr., 63, of two counts of fraud and conspiracy through her company, Global Health Care Services of the District.

Jurors found the couple guilty of eight counts of money laundering and conspiracy through the District-based home health-care firm, and acquitted them of three others.

U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell set sentencing for Feb. 26.

The Bikundis, originally from Cameroon, face up to decades in prison, and potentially deportation, although their attorneys are expected to seek less time.

Virginia had already revoked Ms. Bikundi’s license.  She should have never allowed to be a provider.   As soon as politicians get hold of this story, the Medicare and Medicaid abuse stories will take on a life of their own.  Unfortunately, the losers will be the patients, not these immoral bastards who are bilking the government out of millions of dollars.  Additionally, if someone is getting itchy fingers to deport someone, I would start here, once the prison sentences have been served.

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Same-sex marriage, Obamacare, the flag–It’s been quite a week

The Supreme Court on Friday delivered an historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5-4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.

The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.

“The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The country’s first legally recognized same-sex marriages took place just 11 years ago, the result of a Massachusetts state supreme court decision. Now, more than 70 percent of Americans live in states where same-sex couples are allowed to marry, according to estimates.

Holy cow, what a week.  Lots of change.  All of it was just a matter of time.  Now everyone can marry who they love, all over the nation.

Looking back, the end result of all these changes is that people have more rights.  This should be seen as a good thing.

Same-sex marriage was only a matter of time and is definitely a civil rights issue.  The LGBT community still has a long way to go to have full rights.  There still is no job protection, for example.  It’s been less than 50 years since Loving v. Virginia codified interracial marriage in Virginia.  At the turn of the century, there were places were homosexual sex was illegal.  Imagine the number of lives that have been ruined because former respected members of communities across the country were somehow discovered.  That is no longer an issue.

Just as a perspective, when I was a young psych major in college, homosexuality was by the  AMA  and the American Psychiatric Association as a mental illness.  We have come a long way, in so many respects.  The wheels of social justice march on.    Limbaugh has something to bitch about for decades.

Paradoxical mental health expectations: not so enlightened?

mental illness

Americans like to think that they are enlightened as far as mental illness goes.  They no longer keep crazy old Aunt Sally locked in the attic.  People are encouraged all the time to seek mental health treatment.  “Go for professional help” is code for get a shrink.   People confess to taking Zoloft and other anti depressants like they are popping an aspirin.   Some folks even discuss what their psychiatrists tell them as a conversation piece at cocktail parties.   Is all this feel-good talk about our national mental health simply window dressing?

Yes and no.  Actually, our treatment of mental illness is, if you will pardon the pun, schizophrenic.  On the one hand, mental illness is treated like its just one of the conditions that affects the human body, like heart disease, TB,  diabetes or chicken pox.  Our HIPAA laws protect mental health conditions like any other disease, in fact often times more than other diseases.

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Ebola Czar and quarantines?

hazmat 2

New York Times:

DALLAS — President Obama raised the possibility on Thursday that he might appoint an “Ebola czar” to manage the government’s response to the deadly virus as anxiety grew over the air travel of an infected nurse.

Schools closed in two states, hospitals and airlines kept employees home from work, and Americans debated how much they should worry about a disease that has captured national attention but has so far infected only three people here.

A federal official said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had broadened its search for contacts of Amber Joy Vinson, the second nurse infected with Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital here, after interviewing family members who gave a different version of events from Ms. Vinson’s. The nurse had said she had a slight fever before boarding a flight from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday. But family members said she had appeared remote and unwell during her trip to Ohio over the weekend.

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We don’t have a Surgeon General because…?

surgeon general The United States has been without a Surgeon General since July, 2013.   The acting Surgeon General is Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak,   Why is this position temporary?  The Senate has refused to push through President Obama’s nominee for the position. While the Surgeon General cannot enact laws, this person can influence policy by discussion and is the national spokesperson for health related issues.   Think back to comments from people serving in this position over smoking cigarettes, AIDS, and teen sex.  Many folks just don’t want to have any discussion at all.  This time, the NRA is leading the charge.  Apparently, it fears any talk about gun violence or suicide.  I can’t imagine a doctor worth his or her salt not talking about the importance of gun safety.  Maybe we just won’t find a Surgeon General. Let’s examine what the problem seems to be, according to

[T]he NRA has tried to bar pediatricians from counseling parents about the risks of keeping guns at home. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that doctors begin to talk to parents about gun safety even before their baby is born and continue the conversation yearly, just as doctors talk to parents about the dangers of swimming pools and the importance of bicycle helmets. Florida passed a gag law in 2011; crafted by an NRA lobbyist, the bill forbids doctors from “making written inquiry or asking questions concerning the ownership of a firearm or ammunition by the patient or by a family member of the patient.” A district court ruled the following year that the law restricted physicians’ rights to free speech and the case is now in the appeals process. Murthy’s opposition to pediatrician gag laws was one of the reasons cited by the NRA and Rand Paul in their attempt to disqualify him.

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Where do the potheads live?


Worldwide, weed news couldn’t be hotter. It’s now legal in Colorado and Washington — and Uruguay just became the first country to legalize it. The nation now has bold, new weed plans that include, among others, giving medical marijuana to prisoners in its jails.

The catch: Despite Uruguay’s weed affinity, only 8.3 percent of its inhabitants actually smoke it, according to the United Nations 2014 World Drug Report.

The country that, surprisingly, has the highest percentage of stoners? Iceland. That’s right, 55,000 of its residents light up — nearly one-fourth of the population — even though marijuana remains an expensive commodity, according to some. Today, its president wants the trade legalized. “If we allow the sale of alcohol,” he said, “there is no reason to ban the soft drugs any longer.”


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Stopping Mass Shootings

These are common sense approaches to a serious problem.  Will it solve every mass shooting?  Of course not, but its a place to start.

I particularly like the notion of reforming the privacy laws.  Mr. Kelly was right.  NO one would tell him where his son was, because of privacy laws.  How ridiculous.

Every time some nut case goes on a rampage, I ask myself what laws could have stopped the killer.  In most cases a change in gun laws would have had little effect, other than keeping the seriously mentally ill from being able to get their hands on a gun.

Is this the common grown we have all been talking around?

Va. House looks for any excuse regardless of how stupid…

From The editorial:

The Post’s View

Va. Republicans need to end their excuses for not expanding medicaid

REPUBLICANS IN Virginia’s House of Delegates are running out of excuses to refuse a huge pot of federal money for expanding health-care coverage to poor people. The legislature this week convened a special session, the product of House Republicans’ baseless refusal to compromise on the health-care expansion. Both Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and the state Senate have offered compromise plans, responding to the House GOP’s proffered reasons for opposition with more seriousness than they deserve. If the Republicans’ opposition is anything beyond thoughtless or cynical, they should come to the negotiating table now.

The special session was called to agree on next year’s budget. But the battle is over one piece of the state’s financial plan: whether to accept federal funds to expand eligibility for Medicaid, the federal-state partnership that offers health-care coverage to people below and around the poverty line. The Affordable Care Act’s coverage plan depends on this expansion, but the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out. Virginia is one of those that hasn’t made up its mind, even though the federal government has committed to pay nearly the whole tab, in perpetuity, with tax dollars it is already collecting from every state, including Virginia, whether they expand or not.

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Virginia’s psychological disabilities and some good, healthy introspection

After the massacre at Virginia Tech there was great promise that Virginia would reform its mental health system.  There was great promise that we would never get caught with our proverbial pants down again and we would march forth to improve our psychiatric faciltities and access to treatment.  Nothing much as happened.  Like all searing scars, great promises are made and they rarely amount to a hill of beans.  Such was the case with the Old Dominion.

Deeds was apparently stabbed by his 24-year-old son, Gus, on Tuesday. Gus, who then shot himself to death, had been given a psychiatric exam the previous day but was released because of an inability to locate a psychiatric bed in remote and rural Bath County.

The elder Deeds, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2009, was airlifted to a hospital in Charlottesville, where he is in fair condition after being treated for stab wounds.

This incident has spurred immediate discussion of Virginia’s attitude regarding the mentally ill – namely, that they are a proper and obvious target for funding cuts when it comes time to squeeze budgets. From 2005 to 2010, according to a report last year by the Treatment Advocacy Center, Virginia eliminated 15 percent of its public psychiatric beds. It has just 17.6 beds per 10,000 people, 40 percent of a target of 50 beds per 10,000 recommended by professionals, according to Sy Mukherjee of ThinkProgress.

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House Republicans almost ensure government shutdown


New York Times email:

With the federal government careening toward its first shutdown in 17 years, House Republicans chose a hard line Saturday in their attack on President Obama’s health care law, setting up a late vote to attach a one-year delay of the health care law to legislation that would keep the government operating past midnight Monday.

The House Republican package would also permanently repeal a tax on medical devices that helps pay for the Affordable Care Act.

The House will also vote on a separate bill to ensure military forces continue to be paid in the event of a government shutdown, an admission that the outcome of the fiscal showdown is all but sealed.

The decision to choose confrontation over compromise or surrender all but ensures that much of the government will close on Tuesday, barring a last-minute decision to pass a short-term spending bill while negotiations continue.

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Affordable Health Care, Self Fulfilling Failure in Virginia, Thank You Republicans

So recently a friend of mine, who sells different types of insurance, was sharing the abysmal failure of the Affordable Care Act in Virginia.  Well, this just in, our Republican leadership chose NOT to create our own state exchange.  What are the ramifications?  Well, that is the million dollar question isn’t it.

Here is a comprehensive article in the Washington Post.

It’s a Web site designed to make it easy for people to find health coverage. Each state will have one. The District and 16 states, including Maryland, are running their own exchanges. The rests are either partnering with the federal government or, as in Virginia’s case, relying on the federal government to operate their exchanges. To find the correct site, go to

When the sky doesn’t fall, what will the Republicans do?  I was just talking to a very conservative friend of mine who is perfectly thrilled with the changes thus far.  Their adult child has insurance and that is a huge relief for them.

Is the legislation perfect?  No, so what, is anything perfect when it is first designed?   But now is the time, as John McCain said, to move forward, fix the bumps, and there will be bumps, but it is time to accept this as our new reality and make it the best it can be.

I know, for me, as a very healthy woman in her mid twenties, I never could have imagined that I would be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  But guess what, I was, and from that moment on, without employer healthcare, I was simply uninsurable.  Luckily, even when I no longer worked for that employer, he kept me on his insurance, out of the kindness of his heart and no other reason.  Even though I raised the rates for everyone, he kept me on. 

The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, but dammit, it’s better than the what we had before…….NOTHING!

Senator Tim Kaine: Shutting down the government is unthinkable

From email:

Over a dozen Senators are pushing for a scenario that should be unthinkable: they want to use a government shutdown as leverage to enact an extreme, right-wing agenda that starts with defunding the Affordable Care Act.  And these folks are picking up more support every day.

A government shutdown would be disastrous.  Real people’s jobs are on the line.  The strength of our economic recovery is on the line.   The American people’s confidence in our political system could sink to an all-time low – and seriously jeopardize efforts to use the government to make people’s lives better.

We need to create the political will in Washington to confront our problems responsibly – where we roll up our sleeves, and approach our differences of opinion honestly so we can meet in the middle, find common ground and settle on real solutions.

Every elected official has his or her own favored policy positions.  But if folks dig in their heels and threaten to seriously damage the American economy if every one of their demands isn’t met, our government can’t function.  In fact, nothing could be more irresponsible.

This isn’t a game of chicken.  It’s governing.  When there are problems with our laws, individual representatives need to work together to fix them.

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Bachmann not getting any saner

Living proof that Michelle Bachmann is not getting saner.  With a flair for the dramatic, Rep. Bachmann pleads with Congress to repeal Obamacare with the threat that it is going to kill women, children and senior citizens.  Huh?  Even those who don’t like it haven’t said they thought it would kill them.  No explanation was provided as to HOW the ACA was supposed to kill anyone.