Trump’s Billion-Dollar Fraud Pardons Criticized in New Report

A new report by the Washington Post has drummed up controversy around some of former president Donald Trump’s last acts as President, especially when comparing them to remarks he made regarding social security and Medicare early last week. Here’s the full story. 

Trump’s U-Turn

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Last week, Trump came under fire for saying he would cut entitlements to Social Security and Medicare. 

Campaign Clarification

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Later in the week, he course-corrected his comments, stating, “I will never do anything that will jeopardize or hurt Social Security or Medicare,” and his campaign clarified that he meant he would target waste in these areas – meaning fraud or theft – not cut entitlements.

Questioning Trump’s Medicare Fraud Stance

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However, a new report by the Washington Post has raised a point that Democrats have pounced upon. 

Presidential Pardons

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If Trump wants to curb fraud and theft in Medicare and Social Security, why did he use his presidential powers to pardon multiple people convicted of major Medicare fraud? It’s a unique situation.

Trump’s Controversial Pardons

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Trump used his last months in power to, among many other things, commute the sentence of 5 people convicted of defrauding Medicare out of a collective $1.6 billion. 

A High-Profile Medicare Fraud Pardon

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Judith Negron, who received 35 years in prison for a $205 million fake Medicare claim and was ordered to pay back $87 million, had her sentence ended early in February 2020. At the time of her 2011 conviction, Negron’s case was the biggest mental health scam the country had seen.

One Year Sentence for $30 Million Fraud

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Daniela Gozes-Wagner, who was given a 20-year sentence for a racket involving almost $30 million of false Medicare claims, had her sentence ended after only a year in prison.

A Racketeering Scheme 

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She had claimed for tests that never happened, at locations which turned out to be empty offices. According to prosecutors, she had a team waiting at these offices that was instructed to tell her if Medicare investigators showed up.

Florida Eye Doctor’s Multi-Million Dollar Medicare Scam

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There’s also the case of Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor who defrauded $42 million from Medicare and got handed a 17-year-long stretch in 2018. Investigators found that he had falsely diagnosed hundreds of patients, defrauding both Medicare and insurers out of millions.

Another Controversial Pardon

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But the biggest fish to get off the hook was Philip Esformes, a man convicted in 2019, and who the Justice Department stated had “orchestrated one of the largest health care fraud schemes in U.S. history.” 

Trump’s Pardon of a Billion-Dollar Medicare Fraudster

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Esformes, who was a nursing and addicted living facility mogul, was convicted in 2019 for over $1.3 billion in false Medicare and Medicaid claims “for services that were not provided, were not medically necessary or were procured through the payment of kickbacks.”

Skepticism and Speculation

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Esformes’ case is one of the largest ever healthcare frauds, and Trump’s pardon left critics wondering what his motivations were. 

Health Concerns or Leniency?

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At the time, the White House stated that Eformes was having health issues. However, days after being freed, he was photographed partying at his daughter’s wedding.

Trump’s Medicare Fraud Stance

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The revelation in the New York Times report has led critics to comment. Reporter Michael Mechanic has claimed that “Trump doesn’t care about Medicare fraud” and pointed to Trump’s current legal situation as proof of this claim.

Trump’s Record on Medicare and Social Security

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Over the last few years, Trump has backed both Medicare and Social Security, often against his party’s wishes. 

A Clash with Republicans

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He’s stated many times that he would protect both programs, most recently in a rally last month where he stated Republicans “don’t have to play around with Social Security and Medicare.” 

A Mixed Bag

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Trump criticized Nikki Haley for plans to restructure these programs and also took aim at DeSantis who has supported privatizing both.

Rally Rhetoric

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Trump also has a video on his campaign website in which he says, “Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security.” 

Biden’s Counterpoint

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Trump’s stance on these programs is tough to pin down, but this hasn’t stopped the Biden campaign from going on the attack. 

Using Trump’s Words Against Him 

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In a new ad campaign, Biden’s team attacked Trump’s earlier comments of, “There is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements – in terms of cutting – and in terms of also the theft and the bad management of entitlements” by comparing it with a clip of Biden in his state of the union address stating, “If anyone here tries to cut Social Security, Medicare or raise the retirement age, I will stop you.”

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