Sounds like Jeb is a fixer and a bag man, just like his father. Oops!
WASHINGTON -- Jeb Bush personally lobbied the secretary of health and human services, while his father was vice president, on behalf of a Miami figure who would later flee the country accused of one of the greatest Medicare frauds in the program's history.
Bush pressed then-HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler to give the man's HMO a waiver so that it could accept larger sums of Medicare money than it otherwise would have been allowed, Heckler told The Huffington Post.
Miguel Recarey Jr., head of the health maintenance organization International Medical Centers (IMC) who often boasted of connections to the Miami Cuban mafia, paid Bush $75,000 in the mid-1980s. Bush has acknowledged receiving the payment but said it was tendered for real estate consultation. But the deal he consulted on was never closed.
The New York Times recently reported that the younger Bush made frequent use of his connection to his father both as vice president and president. "Even within a family long steeped in politics, Mr. Bush stood out to White House aides for the frequency of his communications and the intensity of the opinions," the paper reported.
Jeb Bush, now a top GOP contender for president in 2016, has addressed the latest criticism by saying that he is his "own man."
The IMC affair involved hundreds of millions of public dollars. In 1992, as his father, President George H.W. Bush, ran for re-election, Jeb Bush denied having reached out to Heckler on Recarey's behalf. He said that he had only spoken to a lower-level HHS official to ask that Recarey be given a "fair hearing" with regard to his application to renew a waiver that allowed IMC to receive more than 50 percent of its revenue from Medicare. (The waiver had been granted as part of an HMO pilot project that was set to expire. The renewal was ultimately not granted.)
But Heckler herself, in a 2012 interview with HuffPost, confirmed that Jeb Bush did indeed lobby her personally -- and that his input played a major role in her thinking. She was in favor of renewing the waiver, she said, although she left office before doing so.
She said she took his call, and took it seriously. "Jeb was one that I and friends of the Bushes always thought would be president," Heckler said.
"He knew the people well," said Heckler, referring to the South Florida Cuban community. "He was involved, and I know that his compassion and my sense of conscience and his, I thought, matched, and therefore I was positive, acting upon this.
"Heckler's statement backs up congressional testimony offered by two other HHS officials in 1987. If all three are to be believed, Bush has been lying for some 20 years. He did, in fact, directly lobby the secretary for the IMC waiver.