Saturday, December 11, 2004

This is what you get when you entrust the White House to a party that hates government and a president who throughout his life has rarely if ever been held accountable for a failing:

Medicare's toll-free telephone line, one of the main vehicles for disseminating information about new prescription drug benefits and drug discount cards, gives accurate answers less than two-thirds of the time, Congressional investigators say.

In a test of the service, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, found that 29 percent of callers received inaccurate answers, while 10 percent got no answers at all....

In another recent report, the accountability office found that Medicare provided even less accurate information to doctors who inquired about the proper way to bill for treating Medicare patients.

In response to 300 test calls, the accountability office said, customer service representatives gave correct and complete responses to only 4 percent of the billing questions. About 54 percent of the answers were simply wrong, and 42 percent were incomplete or partly correct, it said....

"We were faced with an unprecedented volume of calls about a new part of the Medicare program that required new training efforts and many new customer service representatives," said Dr. Mark B. McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "We believe we responded as well as we reasonably could given the unique and demanding circumstances."...

--New York Times

McClellan of course, may be punished for this by being promoted to Secretary of Health and Human Services.

(Although there's also speculation that the next HHS secretary could be -- yikes! -- Newt Gingrich.)

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