Zombies! Dead People Get $26 Million in Government Benefits

The government spent a breathtaking $26 million to provide dead people—who were poor when they were alive—with health insurance in one state alone, according to a new federal audit. The benefit was administered through Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the needy and the astonishing multi-million-dollar figure applies to just Florida but similar atrocities are likely occurring in other states.

American taxpayers may wonder how this could possibly happen, though fraud and corruption are rampant in government, especially in welfare programs. First let’s explain how Medicaid, jointly funded by federal and state governments, functions. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administers the program at the federal level. States must create CMS-approved plans to run their Medicaid programs, which provide low-income residents with medical coverage. In some states, such as Florida, the government contracts with insurance companies and makes fixed monthly payments to provide coverage. In Florida 37 insurance companies have contracts to provide coverage.

In this case, the government continued making payments to the insurance companies long after the beneficiaries had passed away. In other words, the government doled out huge sums to provide dead people with medical insurance for years. The astounding figures were made public recently in a report issued by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General, which blamed the outrageous waste on lack of collaboration between various state agencies and outdated information in databases. In some of the overpayment cases, investigators found that the state was “not able to explain the reasons they occurred.”

The investigation covered a five-year period from 2009 to 2014 and reviewed a sample of 124 payments to Medicaid insurers for subjects that had died. Of the 124, the inspector general determined that 113 were overpaid at a cost to the government of $192,273. Using that formula, auditors estimated that the state paid $26,202,536 over the five-year period to provide dead people with taxpayer-funded health insurance. This occurred because Florida officials failed to update the death dates of beneficiaries in its Medicaid database, the probe found, so the payments kept rolling. “The State agency had inadequate policies and procedures to identify and correct inaccurate death information,” the report states. As is the case in other states, the feds cover about 60% of Florida’s Medicaid tab so in this instance Uncle Sam got fleeced out of $15,356,486.

The government spent an eye-popping $545.1 billion on Medicaid in 2015, according to National Health Expenditure Data made available by CMS. California’s annual Medicaid costs are top in the nation at $85.6 million followed by New York at $60 million and Texas at $36 million. It’s hardly surprising that states with large immigrant populations have the biggest Medicaid tabs. Though federal law prohibits illegal aliens from receiving Medicaid benefits, some states, like Massachusetts, openly provide illegal aliens with publicly-funded health coverage through its Medicaid agency known as MassHealth. Additionally, Medicaid has a multi-billion-dollar slush fund to offer illegal immigrants “emergency” coverage. Furthermore, the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens (anchor babies) automatically qualify for Medicaid.

Fraud in this colossal healthcare program has been pervasive for years and things only got worse with the implementation of President Obama’s disastrous healthcare overhaul. CMS was in charge of Obamacare’s tumultuous implementation and catastrophic health exchange website yet the government officials who screwed up quietly received tens of thousands of dollars in performance bonuses and other taxpayer-funded perks. Judicial Watch obtained records that show Medicaid officials who played a significant role in the healthcare law’s failures were handsomely rewarded with large sums of cash and generous amounts of paid time off on the public’s dime. Many have left their lucrative federal government jobs for the private sector.

The motto of Judicial Watch is “Because no one is above the law”. To this end, Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.