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Where’s the Government When We Need It? Marcum LLP | Accountants and Advisors | New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California and Florida Certified Public Accountants
Where’s the Government When We Need It?

Going back and re-reading my column from last week, I came to realize that the Ebola scare we are facing down in the U.S. was never truly likely to become an Ebola epidemic. What I was focused on was the government ineptitude that allowed the three new documented U.S. cases to develop in the first place, and the string of unforgiveable missteps in properly containing the situation from the outset.

My thoughts about the mishandling of those cases were clarified when I read Frank Bruni's op ed column in the New York Times last Sunday. Bruni hit the nail on the head when he wrote that Ebola " ravaging Americans' already tenuous faith in the competence of our government and its bureaucracies."

He went on to say, "Before President Obama's election, we had Iraq, Katrina and the meltdown of banks supposedly under Washington's watch. Since he came along to tidy things up, we've had the staggeringly messy rollout of Obamacare, the damnable negligence of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the baffling somnambulism of the Secret Service." He does have a way with words, and I bet I'm not the only one who agrees with him.

My original thoughts weren't so much about the likelihood of a U.S. epidemic (several readers rightly pointed out that I am no epidemiologist); they were about the appalling mishandling of the health scare itself. Americans used to have faith and confidence in the government to safeguard our well-being. Federal, state or local, we trusted that the government was there to serve and protect, and we were happy (well, maybe not so happy) to pay our fair share in taxes to insure that government would take decisive, preemptive action when we needed it - in times of war, natural disaster or health emergency.

What seems to have started happening over time is that when governmental intervention is most needed, our officials can't get it right, at least not on the first try. The new norm seems to be, we'll get it right eventually.

With the amount of money we pay for government, with the enormous resources at their disposal, our officials should be getting it right from the get-go. At the very least, they should not be getting it wrong. Yet, whether it's the CDC, the Secret Service, or FEMA, the litany of screw ups just keeps growing. We deserve better.

Senegal and Nigeria both managed to contain the Ebola epidemic in their countries. Hopefully, with some common sense leadership from our new "Ebola czar," Ron Klain, the Ebola scare in the U.S. will abate as well.


Ebola and the CDC: Scourge in the Making Marcum LLP | Accountants and Advisors | New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California and Florida Certified Public Accountants
Ebola and the CDC: Scourge in the Making

Thomas Eric Duncan will go down in infamy as Patient Zero, the person who brought Ebola to the United States. Nina Pham, a nurse who cared for Mr. Duncan in Dallas, Texas, will go down in history as the first person to be infected with Ebola on U.S. soil. Her co-worker, Amber Vinson, another caregiver to Mr. Duncan, is victim number 2. As of this writing, they are the only U.S. victims so far, but with certainty, more are to come.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, whom we can only hope one day in the not-too-distant future will become the former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), recently admitted that perhaps the CDC "could have done more" to prevent the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in the U.S. Among the mistakes that the CDC admits to are:

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The High Cost of Litigation Marcum LLP | Accountants and Advisors | New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California and Florida Certified Public Accountants
The High Cost of Litigation

In today's world, litigation has become a practically unavoidable fact of life. AIG's lawsuit against the U.S. government, claiming that the terms of the tax payer-funded bailout that saved the company's butt in 2008 were too draconian, is just the latest headline-grabber. Coca-Cola, Infosys, Actavis and Sirius XM are just a few of the legions of other companies out there currently or recently embroiled in legal battle. And that's not to mention the government entities and individuals also taking up time and space on the court docket.

Both individuals and business entities are facing litigation with ever-increasing frequency. Invariably, this becomes an expensive proposition, whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant. In some cases, exorbitantly so.

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The Healthcare Balancing Act Marcum LLP | Accountants and Advisors | New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California and Florida Certified Public Accountants
The Healthcare Balancing Act

Almost every day the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have in-depth articles about the current state of our healthcare delivery system, often citing one aspect or another of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). It's also not unusual to read about one patient receiving care at one facility at one price and another receiving the same treatment down the street at a much different price. Many lament the difficulty in getting quality care or the cost to our healthcare system of routine care. We still have one of the world's best healthcare systems. Our challenge is to get to a balance - great care, reasonable cost, more efficient use of big data in diagnosing, treating and cost control. Let's talk a few specifics.

The WSJ recently reported on the use of assistant surgeons charging very high fees when the patient had no idea in advance that the assistant even existed. He literally woke up from surgery with a possible $100,000-plus additional bill. I know if one of our clients asks a tax partner to prepare a tax return, and agrees on a fee for that service, we can't then tell him we consulted another "expert" on one aspect of his return and that added significantly to his bill, and expect to get paid. We have engagement letters that spell out what we will do and how we will charge. If we see a need for a change, we tell our client and get an understanding of the change before we go forward.

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About Jeffrey M. Weiner

Jeffrey M. Weiner joined Marcum in 1981 and has served as Managing Partner since 1990. Under his leadership, Marcum has expanded from a one-office Firm of 20 employees to a Firm ranked #15 in the United States.

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Recent Posts
Where’s the Government When We Need It?
Ebola and the CDC: Scourge in the Making
The High Cost of Litigation
The Healthcare Balancing Act
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