Federal Funding for the Deceased

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released an oversight report, “Federal Programs To Die For – American tax dollars sent six feet under” that exposes more than $1 billion that has been sent to the deceased in the past decade.  Washington paid for dead people’s prescriptions and wheelchairs, subsidized their farms, helped pay their rent, and even chipped in for their heating and air conditioning bills.

“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,” Dr. Coburn said.  “Congress itself created this mess by allowing poorly designed programs to continue unchecked.  As a result, $1 billion of taxpayer funds has gone to 250,000 deceased individuals since 2000.  If Congress is ready to get serious about spending restraint, ending subsidies for deceased people is a sensible place to start.”

The report shows that since 2000 the known cost of payments to more than 250,000 deceased individuals has topped $1 billion, according to a review of government audits and reports by the Government Accountability Office, inspectors general, and Congress itself.  This is likely only a small picture of a much larger problem. Among the agencies making payments to the deceased:

•    The Social Security Administration sent $18 million in stimulus funds to 71,688 dead people and $40.3 million in questionable benefit payments to 1,760 dead people.

•    The Department of Health and Human Services sent 11,000 dead people $3.9 million in assistance to pay heating and cooling costs.

•    The Department of Agriculture sent $1.1 billion in farming subsidies to deceased farmers.

•    The Department of Housing and Urban Development overseeing local agencies knowingly distributed $15.2 million in housing subsidies to 3,995 households with at least one deceased person.

•    Medicaid paid over $700,000 in claims for prescriptions for controlled substances written for over 1,800 deceased patients and prescriptions for controlled substances written by 1,200 deceased doctors.

•    Medicare paid as much as $92 million in claims for medical supplies prescribed by dead doctors and $8.2 million for medical supplies prescribed for dead patients.

•    Congress has established HIV/AIDS funding distribution based on historic numbers of deceased HIV/AIDS patients, while many individuals living with AIDS desperately wait for medical care.

Click here to read the full report.