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General News    H3'ed 3/10/11

Blue Cross and Blue Shield's Hiring Practices Let Criminals Through the Cracks

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Message Roger Shuler

Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BC/BS) handles massive amounts of medical data about individuals it insures. BC/BS employees have access to personal information for more than 100 million Americans.

You might think that the company would be extra cautious about the people it hires. But according to our research, you would be wrong.

Few companies have done more to fight health-care reform in America than Blue Cross and Blue Shield. On any ranking of companies that put corporate interests over those of the nation at large, BC/BS probably would be near the top. Now we learn that the company, which has a long history of practicing Medicare fraud, is sloppy in its hiring habits.

We reported several months back about Latonia Davis, an employee at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama who pleaded guilty to trafficking in stolen identities. While we noted that the company apparently had been vigilant in that case, we wondered why BC/BS of Alabama has allowed my troublesome neighbor to work there for 20-plus years, even though he has an extensive criminal record.

My neighbor, the charming Mike McGarity, has been the subject of numerous posts at Legal Schnauzer--and will be the subject of many more. I have enough documentation on his criminal history to produce several weeks' worth of posts.

McGarity is directly responsible for the legal headaches my wife and I have experienced for almost 10 years now. But this issue goes beyond our personal tale of woe. Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliates, because of their longstanding problems with Medicare fraud, have been charged by the federal government with being particularly strict about hiring practices. Is the company living up to its obligations?

Koko Mackin, a spokesperson for BC/BS of Alabama, said after the Latonia Davis story broke that the company takes seriously the security of its members' health information. If that is the case, how did somebody like Mike McGarity slip through the employment-screening cracks and stay there for almost 25 years? How many other people with criminal records have slipped through the cracks and have access to your private health and personal information?

This question becomes particularly compelling when you a conduct a little research into the problems BC/BS affiliates have had with fraud--and the resulting scrutiny its hiring practices have received.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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