Dear Amy: My sister-in-law has intentionally lied in order to receive Medicaid to pay for her pregnancy.
She has a work-from-home job making a mid-level salary, and her live-in boyfriend also works full time and contributes to the household.
I feel very disturbed that she is knowingly defrauding the system because she doesn’t want to spend her $8,000 deductible to have her baby.
I am not sure if it is wrong to report her for fraud because we are family and she trusted me when she told me she lied on her application (by saying she is no longer working).
If she found out I reported her, this would obviously create a rift in the family.
Should I just mind my own business?
Dear Wondering: Health care fraud costs the American taxpayers billions of dollars a year.
The following is from a transcript of a congressional hearing on Medicaid fraud: “In fiscal year 2011, the Medicaid program issued $21.9 billion in improper payments, higher than any program in government except Medicare.”
Obviously, the best time to speak up would have been when your sister-in-law divulged her deception to you.
At this point, you can say to her, “I wish you hadn’t told me you were lying about your employment status. You know that’s fraud, right? You’ve created a dilemma for me, and I hope you will do the right thing. If you got caught, it would affect everyone — not just you.”
This leaves some wiggle room regarding what you might choose to do.
The Department of Justice contains this language on its website (justice.gov): “The government counts on the public for tips and assistance in helping stop health care fraud. If you have information about individuals committing health care fraud, please call the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General hotline at 800-HHS-TIPS (447-8477).
Dear Amy: My very capable 87-year-old mom is becoming less capable. She lives alone in her home, which is mostly OK, but everything is a challenge for her, largely due to her failing eyesight.
She’s a computer whiz, but it has become very difficult for her to operate with the added security and other changes to the websites she’s always been able to use.
We’ve decided to move her closer to family, and when we do, we plan to take away the car keys. She understands completely that the move is necessary, but we anticipate a battle about the keys.
Can you recommend a book or website that would be helpful for all of us (including my mom) to navigate the near future?
Dear Concerned: Your mother’s physician could be very helpful in assessing her eyesight (and other physical factors) which would affect her ability to drive safely.
Moving to a new location provides opportunities for family members to persuade her to stop driving (without using the phrase, “We’re going to take away your keys”).
The roads will be unfamiliar, and she might see it as an overall hassle to have and maintain her own vehicle in her new home.
Both the AARP (AARP.org) and AAA (seniordriving.AAA.com) offer safe driving courses for older drivers, both in-person and online.
On the AAA site I reviewed the online “self-assessment,” which your mother should take a look at.
AAA also has a state-by-state listing of driver’s license renewal laws; if your mother is changing states, she should check the regulations regarding renewing her license. For senior drivers, most states seem to require in-person (not online or mail) renewal, with a vision test.
Please understand how challenging it is to surrender driving privileges.
Let your mother know that you realize this is very hard. Assure her that you will find and/or provide reliable transportation for her.
I have heard from many people over the years who — when all else fails — essentially disable the car.
Also, work with your mother on ways to increase her computer visibility. There are online (and keyboard) “fixes” for vision-impaired people.
Dear Amy: Your advice to “Bullet-proof’s Mom” to quit nagging her 18-year-old (who wouldn’t get his vaccine) was great.
My husband told me that nagging him was like the Chinese finger trap, and he’d get one when we stopped harassing him about it. Sure enough, one day out of the blue, he said he was ready for his vaccine, and asked me to go with him.
I bought him chicken soup the next day when he had a low-grade fever.
Not a Nag
Dear Not: Well done!
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.