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Medicaid Workers Investigated For Inappropriate Advice
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State officials are investigating a video that shows Medicaid workers inappropriately advising clients to falsify application benefits. The allegations came to light after a well-known conservative activist produced undercover video of several Ohio workers. Officials are working to prevent future incidents.
Three Ohio county Medicaid agency workers are part of an undercover sting produced by James O’Keefe, the conservative activist known for his heavily-edited videos that have criticized organizations like NPR and ACORN.
This time O’Keefe targeted The Franklin County Opportunity Center where people can apply for Medicaid benefits.
Two men posing as Russian drug dealers told a Medicaid pre-screener they own an $800,000 sports car. The worker suggests hiding the asset to obtain benefits.
“I mean if it’s not something registered here maybe I just wouldn’t mention it. Not that I can say that. You didn’t hear that from me,” the worker said in the video.
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services spokesman Ben Johnson called the video very troubling. Johnson said the agency is conducting an investigation.
“These pre-screeners, these county employees should certainly not be giving information how to hide assets or how to defraud the Medicaid system,” he said.
Franklin County Job and Family Services released a statement on the video but declined an interview. The county agency said it does not condone falsifying applications, and the employee has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an interval review.
Also in the video, the men told the Franklin County worker their 12-year-old sister was working as a prostitute and was in need of an abortion. The screener advises the men to see Planned Parenthood for underage, free abortions.
Planned Parenthood of Central Ohio chief operating officer Beth Lonn said the employee gave misinformation. Lonn said Planned Parenthood follows all federal and state abortion laws.
“However, I think that most folks, when they see the video, can understand that it is inaccurate and do their own research and get the correct information themselves,” she said.
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services spokesman Ben Johnson said the workers should have notified superiors about the entire event.
“They should’ve at the very least reported the incident. And an important distinction, they may have. We don’t know. That’s one of the things we want to find out,” Johnson said.
Johnson added the state plans to use the video in future training workshops.