Obama using ‘bounty hunters’ to root out fraud
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama said Tuesday he’ll bring in high-tech bounty hunters to help root out health care fraud, grabbing a populist idea with bipartisan backing in his final push to overhaul the system.
The White House announcement came as Obama prepared to travel to Missouri today, taking his closing argument to the nation’s heartland. The trip will be his second public appearance this week to rally support and fire up nervous Democrats.
The White House released details of the anti-fraud plan hours after a fresh challenge to the administration from major business groups that unveiled a multimillion-dollar ad campaign arguing that under Obama’s plan “health care costs will go even higher, making a bad economy worse.”
The ad buy, costing between $4 million and
$10 million, will start today on national cable TV outlets. Later in the week, the campaign shifts to 17 states home to moderate and conservative Democrats. Their votes are critical to Obama’s endgame for passing legislation to expand coverage to millions who now lack it and revamp the health insurance system.
On Capitol Hill, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and other senior administration officials met with House and Senate Democratic leaders, who have struggled to secure the votes for the stalled health care legislation.
The two-step approach now being pursued calls for the House to approve a Senate-passed bill from last year, despite House Democrats’ opposition to several of its provisions. Both chambers then would follow by approving a companion measure to make changes in that first bill.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has said he expects the House to act by March 18, the day Obama leaves for an overseas trip. That timetable would be tough to meet, and congressional leaders told Emanuel on Tuesday that they don’t need deadlines handed down from the White House.