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October 04, 2017

Sebelius' Testimony at the Menendez Corruption Trial: Harry Reid Inveighed on Me to Meet with Menendez and His Million Dollar Donor, To Convince Me to Pay Him More Money from the Government's Medicaid Coffers

An update from the story the media is pouring extensive resources into not covering.

Apparently a type of drug was sold in single vials. Bob Menendez's big donor decided he would charge not for the single vial it was intended to be sold as, but as smaller doses contained within that single vial.

Charging for multiple doses instead of the single vial resulted in, get this, Melgen contriving a way to bill Medicaid for more money than the normal pay-for-a-vial system did -- to the tune of what HHS says was an $8.9 million overbill.

Funny how that worked out for him.

This billing strategy was rejected by HHS. Menendez desperately wanted his Very Good Friend to have his 8.9 million in bilked dollars, so he recruited Harry Reid to push Kathleen Sebelius into granting a meeting with Menendez so he could convince her to change HHS policy to deliver $8.9 million to Menendez's Very Good Friend.

From a Fox News video report:

ROSEN: The former head of the Health and Human Services Department said she found it "unusual" when then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asked her to meet with Senator Bob Menendez about a Medicare billing dispute in 2012. This testimony from Kathleen Sebelius marked the latest twist in Menendez's bribery and corruption trial. Here is correspondent, David Lee Miller.


Appearing under subpoena, prosecution witness, former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, testified about a meeting involving Senator Menendez. According to the prosecution, eye doctor, Dr. Saloman Melgen, gave Menendez thousands of dollars in gifts and political contributions in exchange for Menendez using his influence to help the doctor obtain visas for girlfriends and help in business deals. In August of 2012, Secretary Sebelius attended a meeting with Menendez at the office of then-Majority Leader Harry Reid. Sebelius told the court quote, "Everybody did some talking, but Senator Menendez, it was his meeting, so he presented the issues he was concerned about." Prosecutors say there was only one issue concerning Menendez, convincing the secretary to change Medicare policy to benefit Dr. Melgen, who was appealing a Medicare decision that he overbilled the agency $8.9 million. Sebelius told the court quote, "The discussion involved policy this case has triggered." The defense tried to show that there were other subjects discussed, but Sebelius held firm.


MILLER: In earlier testimony, a former Medicare official testified that the senator had an "aggressive tone" during a 2009 phone call. That call ended abruptly, when the senator realized he wasn't going to get what he wanted.

Sebelius said she had in fact avoided Menendez for a year, precisely to avoid his pressuring her to deliver government dollars to his Very Good Friend. From Ed Morrissey's digest:

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell pressed Sebelius to acknowledge that Menendez never mentioned Melgen, which she did, but with a rather important caveat. Since Melgen was the only provider demanding a change in this policy and involved in a payment dispute over it --and Melgen was known to be a crony of Menendez -- the connection didn't escape Sebelius. In fact, as she testified, that was precisely why she had avoided Menendez for a year, and then emphasized that it was so unusual it never happened with her at any other time.

BTW, Melgen apparently tried to argue that selling this medicine by the vial, instead of the (pricier) individual dose has he attempted, "wasted medicine," and I'm sure he just didn't want to waste any of that precious, precious medicine.

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posted by Ace at 01:47 PM

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