The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 October 2004

It's fraud, says the AG

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has told the Associated Press that the filing of the Medicaid reimbursement form for Dr Tom Coburn's 1990 operations on Angela Plummer constituted "fraud," though no charges will be filed as the statute of limitations has expired.

Coburn treated Plummer's ectopic pregnancy by removing both her Fallopian tubes, even though only one was affected, leaving her sterile. Since Medicaid did not pay for sterilization procedures for patients under twenty-one years of age — Plummer was twenty — Coburn reported only the removal of the tube containing the embryo.

Edmondson says that had Coburn described his actions in full, he would have received no reimbursement from Medicaid, and that his omission was intended to make sure he "got paid for something that he would not have been paid for had he submitted the claim accurately."

Plummer eventually filed suit against Coburn, claiming she had never consented to the sterilization, but did not pursue the matter.

Meanwhile, Coburn's rival for a hotly-contested Senate seat, Brad Carson, is already running ads waving the "fraud" description around.

Persuaded as I am that wording treatment descriptions in the way that pries the most money out of insurance companies is a true 21st-century art form, I'm inclined to dismiss Edmondson's claims as so much white noise. On the other hand, Coburn's deposition, in which he states that he had asked Plummer not to discuss the sterilization with Medicaid, is more troubling, at least to me.

(If you'd just as soon not go through, the Carson campaign has posted the entire AP story here.)

Posted at 7:28 AM to Soonerland


And this is suddenly relevant now to a Democratic AG because...?

Posted by: Dan at 8:14 AM on 15 October 2004

Yep. Exactly.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:16 AM on 15 October 2004

Something like that would certainly make me dubious about supporting Coburn if I lived in Oklahoma. But it would have made much more of an impact if it came earlier in the campaign.

I wonder if the "October Surprise" meme has effectively made any such sudden, last-minute revelations hardly worth the effort?

Posted by: McGehee at 12:43 PM on 15 October 2004

I believe so; people are now accustomed to expecting some sort of Ghastly Revelation in the last few weeks before the election, so when it shows up, it's no longer astonishing.

Actually, this Coburn incident has been kicking around for a long time, but it was on the wane, and inasmuch as there isn't anything the AG can do to Coburn at this point, I'd consider this "timely" announcement purely political.

Posted by: CGHill at 12:58 PM on 15 October 2004

Ah. Kind of like the bogus Weinberger indictment on the eve of voting in 1992?

Posted by: McGehee at 12:43 PM on 16 October 2004

The weekend before, wasn't it?

Posted by: CGHill at 10:17 PM on 16 October 2004