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Medicare's top biller: Senator Bob Menendez' BFF, Salomon Melgen

Well, whaddya know?  It turns out that Medicare’s top biller – to the tune of $20 million just in 2012 – is none other than Senator Bob Menendez’ (D-NJ) bestie, Dr. Salomon Melgen.  

He’s the guy who kept giving Menendez flights on his private jet to the Dominican Republic, where Menendez enjoyed a number of relaxing vacations in which absolutely nothing inappropriate occurred.  The Senator just kinda forgot to disclose these expensive private jet rides with his top donor, until that little oversight was pointed out to him, whereupon he quietly cut the good doctor a check for $58,500.

Now it’s a little more clear how Melgen was able to afford one of those corporate jets Barack Obama hates so much, and how he was able to provide so much vital support to Menendez’ political campaigns.  As the Washington Times relates, Melgen has been busy redecorating his posh Florida offices with the assistance of some helpful FBI agents.  They might have had a few conversations about all that Medicare billing while they where helping him lug the couches and computer desks around:

Early last year, the FBI raided Dr. Melgen’s Palm Beach office, drawing attention to his relationship with Mr. Menendez. Dr. Melgen and his family members have donated more than $400,000 to Mr. Mendendez’ campaigns or political causes since 1992. 

Months later, agents from the Department of Health and Human Services raided the office again in connection with a reported Medicare billing probe.

In an email to the Washington Times Wednesday, Dr. Melgen’s attorney said that the surgeon had four offices across southeast Florida with 30 employees who have treated thousands of patients.

The attorney, Kirk Ogrosky, a former federal prosecutor, said Dr. Melgen  “billed in conformity with Medicare rules.”

“While the amounts in the CMS data release appear large, the vast majority reflects the cost of drugs,” he wrote. “The facts are that doctors receive six percent above what they pay for drugs, the amount billed by physicians is set by law, and drug companies set the price of drugs, not doctors.”

“Dr. Melgen strongly supports transparency in government, but engaging in speculation based on raw data is irresponsible,” Mr. Ogrosky added. “Dr. Melgen and his employees provide a substantial amount of free services and drugs to patients who cannot afford to pay.”

I’m sure it’ll all work out fine.  That FBI crew is probably just a gang of irresponsible young agents, all hopped up on raw data.  We should follow President Obama’s lead and avoid making wild accusations about medical practices we don’t understand.

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