JUNE 13, 2013
Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded tens of thousands of dollars in pay bonuses to top earners in the division that blames unavoidable cuts to cancer treatments on federal budget sequestration, according to alarming new documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
The Obama administration claims that the inhumane slash in cancer treatments for certain Medicare patients is out of its control because it’s a consequence of federal budget sequestration and it doesn’t have the power to stop it. In fact, in a letter obtained by a news agency earlier this month, HHS told Congress it doesn’t have the authority to exempt Medicare payment for the cancer treatments that have been hit as a result of sequestration reductions.
Concerned lawmakers had asked the agency to use budgetary authority to exempt the crucial medical treatments from sequestration reductions, considering the harsh effect it’s having on cancer patients. Since the March sequestration, a number of cancer clinics started turning away Medicare patients because the hard-hitting reimbursement reduction made the cost of administering chemotherapy drugs prohibitive.
It turns out that the HHS division responsible for the cancer treatment cuts pays its top officials outlandish bonuses, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). JW has been investigating this for more than a year, long before the sequestration fiasco. In fact, back in April 2012 JW requested the pay records of the agency’s top earners.
Thirteen months later the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the HHS division at the epicenter of the cancer scandal, finally provided the records. In all there are 11 pages (view them here and here) and they show the following: The Deputy Chief Operating Officer, whose base pay is $179,700, was awarded a 25% bonus on October 1, 2011 worth $44,925; another $10,333 bonus on Dec. 31, 2011 and an additional $8,985 on Dec. 12, 2012, bringing her total compensation to $423,643 for the two fiscal years.
Meanwhile, the Director of the Office of Financial Management, whose base pay was also $179,700, was awarded a 15% bonus on October 1, 2011 worth $26,955. This brought her total compensation for the year to $206,655. Total bonuses reflected in the documents amounted to $101,531. Total pay reflected in the documents for the employees was $820,331.
This may seem unbelievable to the national cancer organizations that issued a joint statement blasting the Obama administration’s “crippling effects of sequestration cuts to cancer drugs and services.” The groups warned that, unless CMS exercises its authority to modify the cuts, patient access to cancer care will be jeopardized. It cites a survey that shows 72% of cancer clinics have been forced to deny new Medicare patients under the new sequestration reimbursement policy.
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