culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Thursday, October 25, 2007
Bush lovers and Medicaid fraud. The Wall Street Journal tells us about a likely Medicare- and Medicaid-defrauding company that lost more than half its value
NEW YORK -- WellCare Health Plans Inc.'s market value was cut in half when the stock reopened Thursday following news of a government raid of the manager-care provider's Florida headquarters.

On Wednesday, state and federal law-enforcement agents armed with a federal search warrant raided WellCare's headquarters in Tampa, Fla. [...]

At midday Thursday, WellCare shares were at $49, down $66.17, or 57%, on brisk volume. [...]

It isn't clear what information or materials authorities were seeking in the criminal investigation. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Health and Human Services Department and the Florida attorney general's Medicaid fraud unit participated in the raid.

Much of WellCare's revenue comes from Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly and disabled, and Medicaid, a state-federal health program for the poor. By offering managed-care alternatives to traditional Medicare and Medicaid benefits, the company acts as a middleman between government payers and health-care providers; about a third of Medicaid beneficiaries receive care through private insurers.
Interestingly, the editorial skew of the article is revealed when it concludes with this irrelevant factoid: "A private-equity fund that included George Soros as an investor last year finished selling its WellCare stake, purchased for $220 million, for a total of $870 million."

This is media bias at work. The Journal manages to sneak in an imaginary association of WellCare Chief Executive and Chairman Todd Farha with George Soros, but not with George W. Bush, to whom Farha has contributed the maximum amount.

UPDATE: A little more digging shows just us exactly how Bush-lovin' the WellCare crooks really are (Robert Trigaux, St. Petersburg Times, 2004):
Bush has raised $14.7-million, making Florida his third biggest money state after Texas and California. [...] Here's a brief look at Tampa Bay's biggest money raisers for Bush:

* Todd S. Farha. Never heard of him? You will. He emerged on the Tampa Bay scene in 2002 when the former executive with Oxford Health Plans led a New York investor group in the purchase of Tampa's privately held WellCare HMO (FYI, one of Farha's investment partners in that venture is George Soros, the billionaire who's spending a ton of money to defeat Bush). Last month, Farha took WellCare Health Plans Inc. public on the New York Stock Exchange. The company depends heavily on government contracts to run Medicare and Medicaid HMOs in Florida and five other states. Last spring, Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd flew home from campaign fundraising on a private jet chartered by WellCare at the same time the HMO was pushing legislation potentially worth millions of dollars to the company.

* David Hart. As finance director at WellCare Health Plans, Hart and Farha not only share the same executive suites but the same political interests. Two Pioneers in a pod.
Again interestingly, this article also offers a mention of right-wing nemesis George Soros — but at least it's in the proper context as a direct contrast to Farha's deepest and truest political affections.

Farha has already fallen pretty far (ha!), despite having been selected by Business Week as recently as last year as a top CEO under the age of 40. It turns out he was only a top crony under 40.

Photo from

UPDATE 2 — Oct 26: Now it gets weirder. I've just had a visit from Jeb Bush's Charlie Crist's office doing a Google search for "george soros and wellcare":
IP Address 204.115.188.# (Executive Office of the Governor)
ISP Executive Office of the Governor

Country : United States (Facts)
State : Florida
City : Tallahassee

Lat/Long : 30.4629, -84.2446 (Map)
Language English (U.S.)

Operating System Microsoft WinXP
Browser Internet Explorer 6.0

Time of Visit Oct 26 2007 12:24:25 pm
Last Page View Oct 26 2007 12:24:25 pm
Visit Length 0 seconds
Page Views 1
Referring URL
Search Engine
Search Words george soros and wellcare
Visit Entry Page http://skimble.blogs...-medicaid-fraud.html [i.e., this post just before this update]
Visit Exit Page http://skimble.blogs...-medicaid-fraud.html
Governor Charlie Crist, like his predecessor, is a Republican. We can now expect Jeb's Charlie's office to paint this whole Medicaid fraud thing as the fault of the rich left-wing Jew, despite Soros having sold his investment in WellCare in 2006.

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