You are hereMedia Matters: James O'Keefe's Medicaid Sting Is Still A Fraud
Media Matters: James O'Keefe's Medicaid Sting Is Still A Fraud
-by Jeremy Holden
August 11, 2011- James O'Keefe is once again making completely false claims about undercover videos of Medicaid employees, saying that he has uncovered evidence of Medicaid fraud. But yet again, he has simply demonstrated that his tactics are fundamentally dishonest.
The latest video shows two women, identified as Medicaid workers in Maine, counseling a man who calls himself "Ted Ceanneidigh" (get it?), who claims to be an Irish fisherman, and who says he imports pharmaceuticals on a boat called The Bob Marley. O'Keefe claims that a Medicaid worker "coaches [Ted] by saying, 'If you can't prove income, you don't have income,'" which O'Keefe claims is evidence of Medicaid fraud and "government workers willing to aid people with criminal backgrounds."
In fact, the woman O'Keefe has accused of helping hide income and assets simply advised an applicant that he doesn't have to declare income if he doesn't earn any income, and she recruited a more senior colleague to answer more complex questions about income eligibility. That counselor, who identifies herself as Diane, aggressively questioned "Ted" about his sources of income and told him that he will be required to report that he has access to an account that is in his parents' name.
It's an astonishing display of hubris that O'Keefe is promoting this video as proof of Medicaid fraud.
On the video, O'Keefe's undercover reporter claimed that he works for his parents' fishing business on what he described as a "barter system." The so-called fisherman said his work includes importing pharmaceuticals. "Ted" told a woman identified as a Medicaid worker that he has access to the bank account for the family business, where he deposits the money he earns. But according to "Ted," he makes no income:
[11:42] It's all cash and precious metals, and so none of this is declared, and once it gets into [his parents'] accounts, what they do with it -- what they file -- is on them and their business. But as far as I'm concerned, I don't have an income. They just help me out. I do have my name -- my name is on their account. So I can pull money from their account, but other than that.
At this point, the Medicaid worker encouraged "Ted" to look into private insurance, but if that is not an option, he could look into Medicaid. She made clear to "Ted" that the only thing she can do -- given the fact that he is not eligible for Medicaid based on age or disability -- would be to put him on a waiting list. "Ted" asked again about income:
[19:29] MEDICAID WORKER: If you have income, we need proof of income.
MEDICAID WORKER: Yeah, like pay stubs or --
TED: But I don't get any.
MEDICAID WORKER: If you don't have --
TED: I don't --
MEDICAID WORKER: If you don't --
TED: See, that's the thing I'm concerned about, because it's all a cash business and --
MEDICAID WORKER: If you don't have proof of income, then you have no income.
At no point in the video did "Ted" fill out an application for or receive any Medicaid benefits. In fact, he declined to do so, claiming not to have ID. When the Medicaid worker offered "Ted" an application to fill out and submit, he asked her to once again go over the eligibility requirements. At this point, the Medicaid worker recruited another woman, identified later as "the senior person" whom she thinks is more qualified to answer "Ted's" questions about what income he would have to declare.
Recall at this point that no evidence of Medicaid fraud or willingness to aid in Medicaid fraud has been demonstrated. Recall as well as the entire point of the exercise has been to illustrate government workers helping criminals hide income and assets to perpetrate Medicaid fraud.