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December 4 2015

Some New Yorkers May Have Wondered Why They Couldn't Hear a Darned Thing with Their New "Hearing Aids"

Patrice J. Lee

Not only is rooting out fraud the responsibility of state agencies charged with stewarding public resources, but when they fail it reminds the public how lax government is in its spending our money. A recent case in point is the "earbuds fraud" in New York. Here is what happened: 

Medicaid, it seems, isn’t the only government-sponsored healthcare system that’s an easy target for fraud. New York state is learning that after an investigation into a multi-millionaire scheme in which earbuds were passed off as legitimate hearing aids.

A Syracuse-area licensed hearing aid dispenser and owner of franchise of hearing aid centers targeted 500 workers at central New York hospitals and correction facilities with free custom hearing aid devices that sell for $200 to $300. He billed their state insurance plan $3,000 for each set for over two years claiming that they were medically necessary. They turned out to just to be earbuds or earplugs. Taxpayers were on the hook though for $1.65 million in state insurance funds.

This scammer wasn’t alone. He solicited the help of state correctional officers to identify new targets - paying out approximately $70,000 in referral fees.

The real victims are taxpayers, but at least they are getting justice. The state Inspector General and local district attorney have teamed up in this investigation as The Citizen reports:

"This business owner's scheme lured hundreds of state employees into his criminal enterprise which was breathtaking in its scope, duration and pretense," state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said in a statement.

...

..,,,..The investigation into the scheme is ongoing. More arrests are expected, the inspector general's office said.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, who is prosecuting Miller, said individuals who steal from taxpayers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

"This investigation, indictment and arrest demonstrates what happens when government agencies work together to root out crime," he said.

The New York Post reports that the state is taking a thorough approach to this investigation to uncover everyone who may be involved:

Leahy Scott strongly suggested that some state workers were accomplices in the scam, while others must have known the arrangement was too good to be true.

“I will continue this investigation into the theft of state funds, follow the evidence wherever it leads, and pursue and hold accountable anyone who uses their state position or state resources in furtherance of a criminal scheme,” she said.

The state of New York is known for progressive policies and government overreach, but this indicates an incredible carelessness with regard to our hard-earned money. Unfortunately, bureaucrats on both the start and federal level tend to have a cavalier attitude about spending other people's money. 

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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