As we’ve documented before, one of the left’s favorite arguments when pushing for single-payer health care is that, Medicare (a single-payer system) spends a lot less on administrative costs than private insurance does. And it is true: Medicare does spend a lot less on oversight of their many payments. But that lack of oversight comes with its own steep price tag: fraud. In 2006 top Medicare officials claimed they had reduced the number of fraudulent and improper claims paid by the agency. Now we find out that big government medicine lied to us:

But according to a confidential draft of a federal inspector general’s report, those claims of success, which earned Medicare wide praise from lawmakers, were misleading.

In calculating the agency’s rate of improper payments, Medicare officials told outside auditors to ignore government policies that would have accurately measured fraud, according to the report. For example, auditors were told not to compare invoices from salespeople against doctors’ records, as required by law, to make sure that medical equipment went to actual patients.

As a result, Medicare did not detect that more than one-third of spending for wheelchairs, oxygen supplies and other medical equipment in its 2006 fiscal year was improper, according to the report. Based on data in other Medicare reports, that would be about $2.8 billion in improper spending.