Grateful Dead: Government Paid Over $1 Billion to Dead People in Last Decade

By Jared

Oct 29, 2010 10:39am

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports: With the mid-term elections looming on Tuesday, politicians across the country have been emphasizing the need to cut wasteful government spending in Washington now that the nation’s deficits have soared to record highs. One suggestion: stop sending money to dead people. In the last decade the government has sent over $1 billion to around 250,000 dead people, according to a new report from Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Coburn’s office says they came up with the eye-opening stat by reviewing government audits and reports by Congress, the Government Accountability Office, and various inspectors general at federal agencies. “Nothing represents the stupidity of wasteful Washington spending more than directing a billion taxpayer dollars to the deceased. This practice is disgraceful and, in many cases, robs the living of promised benefits,” Coburn said in a statement. The problems come from all over the federal government, according to the numbers cited in the report. The Social Security Administration sent $18 million in stimulus money to 71,000 dead people and $40 million in benefit payments to 1,760 dead people. The Department of Agriculture sent $1 billion in farming subsidies to dead farmers. The Department of Health & Human Services sent $4 million for heating and cooling costs to 11,000 dead people. The Department of Housing & Urban Development sent $15 million in housing aid to 4,000 households with at least one dead person. Medicare paid $92 million in claims for medical supplies prescribed by dead doctors, plus another $8 million in supplies prescribed for dead patients. Medicaid, meanwhile, paid $700,000 in claims for prescriptions for controlled substances written for 1,800 dead patients. Where does all the money actually go? In some cases to dormant bank accounts, but in most cases, to relatives of the deceased, the report found. The blame, Coburn said, lies with Congress. “Congress itself created this mess by allowing poorly designed programs to continue unchecked,” Coburn stated. “If Congress is ready to get serious about spending restraint, ending subsidies for deceased people is a sensible place to start.” It’s hard to argue with that. After all, they won’t be hurt by the spending cuts. –Matthew Jaffe

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus