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Gov't auditors doubt legality of Medicare bonuses
Gov't auditors question legality of Obama administration bonus program for Medicare insurers
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) Government auditors are questioning the legality of a costly Medicare bonus program that effectively restored some cuts made by President Barack Obama's health care law to popular private insurance plans.

Earlier this year, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office called for the cancellation of the $8.3 billion Medicare Advantage quality bonus program, saying it's not clear the program will improve quality since most of the bonus money is going to plans rated merely average. Republicans called it a wasteful political ploy.

In a letter Wednesday to the administration, GAO general counsel Lynn Gibson said Medicare has not been able to demonstrate legal justification for the program, and auditors "remain concerned about the agency's legal authority to undertake the (program)."

There was no immediate response from the Obama administration.

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