Credibility of anti-fraud efforts placed at risk

Whatever your opinion of illegal immigration, you have to feel uneasy about a report last week that insurers in Florida are denying benefits to severely injured workers based on a legal technicality.

An investigation by ProPublica aired on NPR says one and maybe more insurers routinely deny claims by injured immigrant workers because they used fake Social Security numbers when seeking care. Thus, they’re committing workers-compensation fraud.

Identity theft is a serious problem, and the state fraud bureau rightfully is investigating.

But in the process, legitimately injured workers are being denied healthcare.

That’s not only wrong — no matter what their immigration status may be — but it also paints insurers as uncaring, greedy corporations that allow human suffering to make a buck. It places the credibility of combating real fraud at risk.

And if that’s not bad enough, the report suggests some employers intentionally hire undocumented workers. The employers know that if injured, the workers can be denied care, thus saving the employer on workers-comp costs.

In the absence of a functional federal government working to reform immigration laws, legislators in the Sunshine State need to correct this loophole so workers hurt on the job get the care they need.

About the author: Dennis Jay is executive director of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.