Fight Fraud First! Talking Points

  • Fight Fraud First! is a coalition of national organizations representing seniors, persons with disabilities, military veterans and minorities to advocate for the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Government data show that healthcare fraud and abuse cost taxpayers billions of dollars. In fact, an estimated $65 billion in improper Medicare and Medicaid payments were made in FY 2011 alone, and this does not include the unknown number lost to fraudulent activity.
  • Recent news stories about Medicare fraud and abuse are a sign that enough is enough. We must do more to stop fraud before it happens!
  • We are asking our lawmakers to do more to advance policies that target and eliminate Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse.
  • By properly targeting and preventing Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse, the government can save tens of billions of dollars annually and protect beneficiaries and reputable providers.
  • Some lawmakers have proposed cuts or costly fees on beneficiaries in an effort to decrease healthcare spending. This approach is unfair and puts the burden on seniors, when a small group of bad actors is allowed to operate and siphon billions that should be used for seniors’ healthcare.
  • Across the board cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and new or increased copayments would have a snowball effect that could result in job losses, loss of service providers, reduced access for seniors, less care received, and more expensive health conditions down the road.
  • Better solutions exist – solutions that strengthen the quality and integrity of these essential healthcare programs. The most logical solution is to eliminate rampant waste, fraud and abuse from Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Lawmakers and some provider groups have developed solutions that could effectively stop fraud before it occurs, which protects innocent seniors and saves money. Proactive, targeted and comprehensive solutions should be considered this year to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, and preserve beneficiary access.
  • America’s seniors should not have their care jeopardized by harmful cuts or expensive copayments.  Instead, let’s all work together to FIGHT FRAUD FIRST!

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2012 Farm Bill

Issue: Every 5-7 years a new bill dealing with agriculture, nutrition and conservation is passed by the Agriculture Committees of the House and Senate. The 2008 Farm Bill was passed during a fairly positive economic state and almost every title and program of the Agriculture mega-bill was increased from the previous Farm bill passed in 2002. In stark contrast, both the House and Senate Ag Committees have currently committed to cutting $23 billion over the next 10 years in order to meet their obligation to deficit reduction. As the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee has said about the state of our budget and its implications on their deliberations, “there is no sacred cow in the 2012 farm bill.”

Background: The last Farm Bill passed in 2008 was broken up into 15 titles which cover: commodity crops, horticulture and livestock, conservation, nutrition, trade and food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, energy, forestry, and other related programs. Many of the programs expire in 2012 so the House and Senate are under a time constraint to draft their versions before the May recess.

Position: The National Grange is committed to preserving an environment where American Farmers and Ranchers can continue to be the source of an abundant, safe and efficient food supply. In order to protect and grow the prosperity of our agriculture sector, Grangers believe that the priority issues for the 2012 Farm Bill are the following:

  • Credit – the availability of credit must be protected for farmers of all sizes and crops
  • Rural Development – investment in rural development must continue in order for farmers and ranchers to get their products from farm to table efficiently, including a commitment to rural broadband deployment and affordability
  • Extension and Innovation – funding for research and extension programs which foster new innovations and practices in agriculture
  • Alternative Energy – we must commit to the creation, improvement, and implementation of primary and secondary sources of alternative energy through agriculture so we can lessen our dependence on foreign oil
  • Crop Insurance – crop insurance and disaster relief must be adequately funded in order to provide a critical safety net for farmers dealing with unforeseen weather and market fluctuations

Current Status: The Senate Agriculture Committee has passed their version of the 2012 Farm Bill called the “Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012,” and now the measure will go to the floor.

Related Legislation/Regulations: Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (Senate Farm Bill)

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Endangered Species Act Consultation Process Background

By: Chemical Producers & Distributors Association Issue Brief

Background

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects threatened and endangered species and their habitats and is one of our nation’s most complex and rigorous statutes. Among other things, the ESA requires EPA to assess the effects of pesticides on endangered species and to “consult” with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively the “Services”) on potential adverse effects. EPA’s failure to do so has resulted in a number of lawsuits from activist environmental groups and imposition of “interim measures” by judges, including buffer strips around affected habitats where specific pesticides could not be applied. In 2004, the Services and EPA responded by developing “Counterpart Regulations” to streamline the assessment and consultation process for evaluating potential pesticide effects on endangered species. However, the Counterpart Regulations were largely overturned by the Courts in 2006.

Since then, the Services and EPA have been unable to cooperatively develop and implement a workable process that would result in the timely completion of the consultation process. Unfortunately, no progress has been made in fixing the broken consultation process.

This is already a national problem that could get much worse. In January 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a Notice of Intent to sue the EPA for not consulting with the Services on nearly 400 chemicals potentially impacting 887 threatened and endangered species located throughout the U.S. The lawsuit was eventually filed on January 19, 2011 and covers 381 chemicals and 214 species.

Several years ago, the EPA settled a similar suit that resulted in a hasty, precedent-setting decision to impose restrictions on the use of three critical crop-protection products through mandatory buffer-zones and use limitations that affect more than 112 MILLION ACRES in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. These crippling decisions were made without input from stakeholders in the affected areas; without adequate input from experts in the state governments; without using available real-world data; without the federally-mandated consideration of restrictions on affected parties; and without considering practical implementation of the proposed changes regarding product use and product labeling within the mandated time frame.

This precedent for establishing mandatory buffer-zones and pesticide use limitations through litigation could have a devastating impact on U.S. agriculture.

Position

CPDA supports efforts to evaluate the effects of pesticides on threatened and endangered species, provided the process is truly risk-based, scientifically sound and transparent.

Congress needs to force the EPA and Services to reach an agreement on the consultation process and set deadlines for completing future consultations.

Congress should ask the GAO to update the report GAO-04-93 that focused on the shortcomings of the consultation process and urge the Administration to act on the recommendations.

Congress needs to hold hearings to determine if the Services and EPA’s complaint that inadequate programmatic funding is hampering required consultations is justified and, if so, corrective action taken.

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Fact Sheet: American Agriculture & Current Farm Bill Policy

  • Agriculture employs 14% of the U.S. workforce, or about 21 million people.
  • Agriculture employs more than six times as many workers as the U.S. automotive industry.
  • Agriculture is one of the few U.S. business sectors to boast a trade surplus, exporting $132 billion in farm goods in 2011.
  • According to a 2008 USDA study, agricultural exports generated 920,000 full time jobs, including 608,000 in the non-farm sector.
  • Americans spend just 9.5% of their income on food—less than any other country.
  • U.S. farms sold $369 billion in goods in 2010—that’s bigger than the GDP’s of nearly 200 countries.
  • The most profitable side of the food business is in processing and marketing, not the farmer’s share. In fact, for every dollar that consumers spend on food, farmers receive just 20 cents.
  • Of the $4.39 retail price of a box of cereal, farmers receive just 8 cents.
  • Of the $3.99 retail price of a bag of potato chips, farmers receive less than 10 cents.
  • The United States has the safest, most affordable, and most abundant food supply in the world.
  • According to a recent study by Harris Interactive, 95% of Americans think it is important to produce food domestically.
  • 96% of U.S. farms are run by families, farmer partnerships, or co-ops.
  • The Bureau of Engraving and Printing depends on farmers to produce paper currency—75% of every bill is made of cotton.
  • Fresno, California is the top-producing county in America when it comes to agricultural products.
  • Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kentucky have the most farms.
  • California, Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, and Illinois have the highest agriculture sales.
  • 13% of U.S. agricultural exports originate in California.
  • Commodity policies in the 2008 farm bill cost less than one-quarter of one percent of the federal budget—about 25 cents out of every $100 paid in taxes.
  • Only 11% of funding in the farm bill goes to farm policies.
  • More than 84% of farm bill-related spending goes to food and nutrition programs like food stamps, not to farmers.
  • Farm policy funding has fallen sharply in the last decade. It was slashed in the 2008 farm bill by $7.4 billion, and again in 2010 by $6 billion.
  • U.S. farm policy costs Americans just 2.3 cents per meal of 6.9 cents a day.
  • Compared to other major agricultural producers around the globe, the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the subsidization and tariff scale.
  • Over the life of the 2008 farm bill, total conservation spending increases from $3.7 billion in 2008, to $7.15 billion in 2021, more than the amount for traditional farm policies.
  • Agricultural land provides habitat for 75% of the nation’s wildlife.
  • About 46% of the country is farmland—that’s an area more than ten times the size of California and greater than twice the size of Alaska.

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