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Top Lucentis Biller Donated to Democrats; Rich Fugitives From Ecuador did the same.

2014-12-17

The eye drug Lucentis, which costs thousands of dollars a dose and is no better than a drug made by the same company that costs $50, has some interesting correlations with abnormal donations by a top prescribing ophthalmologist to the Democratic Party.

The New York Times reported on the top billers to Medicare with a special reference to a Dr. Melgen, who was the top recipient of Medicare reimbursements in 2012:

“Topping the list is Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, 59, an ophthalmologist from North Palm Beach, Fla., who received $21 million in Medicare reimbursements in 2012 alone. The doctor billed a bulk of his reimbursements for Lucentis, a medication used to treat macular degeneration made by a company that pays generous rebates to its doctors.”

And this:

“Dr. Melgen’s firm donated more than $700,000 to Majority PAC, a super PAC run by former aides to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. The super PAC then spent $600,000 to help re-elect Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, who is a close friend of Dr. Melgen’s. Last year, Mr. Menendez himself became a target of investigation after the senator intervened on behalf of Dr. Melgen with federal officials and took flights on his private jet.”

The second highest recipient of Medicare reimbursements was an interventional cardiologist who performed cardiac procedures in his clinic that were usually done in a hospital; he received $18 million in 2012 and donated $250,000 to the Democratic party over the last ten years.

The third highest recipient was a pathologist from New Jersey who received over $12 million in 2012.

For some reason, Florida is the preferred habitation of some of the country’s highest paid physicians; in fraud cases recently settled, for example:

“Just last month, two Florida medical clinic owners were sentenced on charges of Medicare fraud, both in cases involving more than $20 million in fraudulent payments. In addition, the Halifax Hospital Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., agreed to pay the government $85 million to resolve allegations that it had billed Medicare for care based on referrals from doctors who had a financial relationship with the institution, a forbidden practice.”

Florida is also the preferred place to live for rich fugitives from Latin America, particularly the Isaias family of Ecuador:

In another case of fairly obvious pay for play donations, this family won special treatment from the State Department after making a number of donations each in the tens of thousands of dollars.  One member of the family, Estefania Isaias, had been banned from the US after fraudulently obtaining visas for her maids to stay in the US.  After donating over a hundred thousand dollars to the Democratic Party, she was allowed to return to the US.  The family’s patriarchs, Roberto and William Isaias, were accused of looting a bank they owned in Ecuador and fleeing to the US to live off the profits.  Ecuador has requested extradition without success.  They were sentenced in absentia to 8 years in prison in 2012; Ecuador claims that the fraud cost their country $400 million.

Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, ran a campaign for more than a year to help Ms. Isaias.  In an email dated May 15, 2012, Mr. Menendez’ office sent Ms. Isaias the good news that her ban from the US had been dropped.  On May 14, Ms. Isaias’ mother gave $40,000 to the Obama Victory Fund.  Ms. Isaias has a sister, Maria, who was also banned from the US for the same reason.  Her case is apparently under review and Mr. Menendez’ letter to the US Citizen and Immigration office has triggered an inquiry by the Homeland Security Investigations.

Homeland Security is still trying to have the Isaias brothers extradited to Ecuador.  The family has some support on Capitol Hill because the Ecuadorean government is considered leftist and the president is especially disliked by right wing congressmen.  Nonetheless, the political contribution angle has raised concerns, partly because the New Jersey congressman can’t consider Ms. Isaias a constituent.  Congressmen are well known and accepted for helping their constituents with government problems, but Ms. Isaias is not in the category usually helped.

The company that sponsored Ms. Isaias’ visa application is run by an Obama fund raiser; this company, Balsera Communications, would have to continue to employ her for the three years that her visa runs.  The company has a website that lists twelve employees with biographies but doesn’t mention Ms. Isaias, and Mr. Balsera refused to answer any questions about Ms. Isaias from the newspaper.  The company has close ties to the Administration, and the paper commented:

“David A. Duckenfield, a partner at the company who is now on leave for a position as deputy assistant secretary of public affairs at the State Department, said Ms. Isaías worked for the firm but declined to comment further.”

In an interview obtained elsewhere earlier this year, Roberto Isaias said his family’s political donations were targeted towards politicians who support “human rights and freedom of speech in Latin America.”

Do not be fooled by  the fact that these instances of corruption can be laid to Democratic politicians.  If the Executive Department of the US government had been under the control of Republicans, these donations would have gone to Republican entities.  These examples show that the US political system is hopelessly corrupt because donations to the major political parties can be used to buy influence and specific favors; political help is available only to wealthy citizens (and aliens), not to the ordinary American.

 

 

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