Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox announced that an additional 32 cases have been filed alleging that women from the Middle East flew into the United States, falsified information and deliberately lied on Michigan Medicaid forms to obtain Medicaid to cover medical costs of delivering their babies. Then, the defendants returned to their native country within a few months.
In order to obtain Medicaid benefits, an applicant must affirm their intention to become a permanent resident of the state. Reportedly, each of these individuals fraudulently declared their intention to become a permanent resident of the state. In each of these cases, these women had already declared an intention to return to the country from which they departed on their visitor visa and did so within months after delivering their children.
“Medicaid benefits are of vital importance to Michigan individuals and their families,” Cox stated. “When people abuse these funds, they violate the law and the residents who deserve and need the help that Medicaid provides.”
The charges were filed in 54-B Judicial District Court in East Lansing and result from an ongoing investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division and the Michigan Family Independence Agency’s (F.I.A.) Office of Inspector General (O.I.G.). In October 2003, Cox charged 23 foreign nationals with falsifying Medicaid forms.
The Attorney General alleges that pregnant women from Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Yemen and Africa came to metro-Detroit specifically for the purpose of delivering their babies and obtaining Emergency Medicaid benefits to pay for the delivery. The falsification of a Medicaid application is punishable by up to four years in jail and/or a $50,000 fine.
The amount of Medicaid funds used to pay for delivery services for these visitors ranged from a couple of thousand dollars for an uncomplicated delivery up to $19,000 for complicated deliveries. In some cases, the women returned to Michigan to deliver more babies.
Cox reportedly feels that it is absolutely necessary to show people that this kind of fraudulence will not be tolerated in Michigan. “It is troubling to know that there are people who deceitfully take advantage of the assistance that our country and Michigan works hard to provide,” Cox said. “Hopefully our efforts now will deter others from engaging in similar criminal activities in the future.”
Judge David Jordan of the 54-B District Court in East Lansing set bond of $50,000 on each defendant. Warrants on the defendants have also been issued. The papers are being processed by the court.
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