Dear Florida Medicaid Recipient:
Are you dead? If so, please notify Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration at your earliest convenience.
It has come to our attention through an audit by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services that Florida’s Medicaid program has overpaid an estimated $26 million in monthly premiums on behalf of enrollees who had previously become deceased.
After some careful consideration, we have come to the conclusion that spending health care dollars on the dead may be unnecessary.
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These payments made to private HMOs can be construed by some to be a frivolous government expense. Maybe not as bad as that government study to figure out how beer koozies work.
But still, it’s hard to get public support for entitlement programs for the dead.
Here in Florida, we don’t even like giving Medicaid money to the needy people who happen to be still alive. So we would like to stop this practice of giving these dollars, partially funded by state government, to the breathing-optional crowd.
So whatever you can do on your end to put a halt to this would be greatly appreciated.
Self-report yourself. Give us a sign from the great beyond. Perhaps, through a black cat, a mysterious soap message on a mirror, or a posting on Craigslist.
Better yet, just write your name on an “I Voted” sticker and leave it at your local health department.
Whatever you can do to alert of us of your continued participation in human events would be greatly appreciated.
In the meantime, we will be fostering a greater public awareness of this problem through the creation of a new public service campaign in Florida called “If you see nothing, say something.”
Too often, we as Floridians live in neighborhoods where others come and go, sometimes just staying for months or years before moving on to someplace else. So it’s easy to lose track of your neighbors and not realize that you haven’t seen a soul come and go from a home on your block for a long time.
If you see nothing say something. You may even encounter some of these needlessly enrolled Medicaid recipients out in public as you run errands, shop and commute to work.
Be vigilant. We live in a state where people frequently function in public places with barely any discernible movement. And some people can appear to be in various stages of decomposition without raising any suspicion.
The dead can easily fit in here, and possibly function for months, and perhaps years, without anybody noticing them.
This may explain why when a traffic light turns green, the car in front of you doesn’t move. Or why it takes so long at the drive-thru window.
The audit report attributed the $26 million in over-payments to delays in updating computer files, or discrepancies in the files that leave a dead person in payment limbo for months. The state has also been hindered because it has been unable to access the “Death Master file” kept by the Social Security Administration.
We will work on that. In the meantime, you can help by maintaining the integrity of the Florida Medicaid system. Check for a pulse. If there is none, please call.
Frank Cerabino writes for The Palm Beach Post.