Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blue Cross of Alabama Has More Than One Criminal In Its Midst

A former Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama employee has pleaded guilty to trafficking stolen identities.

Latonia Davis, 32, recently was fired from her job at BC/BS and will serve 18 months of a 10-year split sentence.

This story hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer because our troublesome neighbor, the guy who initiated our legal headaches, works at BC/BS of Alabama. And as we have reported several times before, Mike McGarity has an extensive criminal record.

After Latonia Davis' arrest, the company issued a statement saying the situation was an "isolated incident." But clearly, Latonia Davis is not the only criminal in the BC/BS of Alabama environment.

Is the company paying attention to the kind of people it hires? And how did a guy like Mike McGarity slip through the cracks?

After all, we're not talking about someone with a few traffic tickets. He has at least eight criminal convictions, including one violence-related offense and one sex-related offense.

But this story goes way beyond my problems with a difficult neighbor. It is national in scope.

As we reported in an earlier post, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association has a long history of fighting health-care reform--and its affiliates have a long history of Medicare fraud.

Congress has stated that BC/BS affiliates have a special duty to conduct thorough background checks on prospective employees. Apparently, there are several reasons for that:

* Many affiliates are Medicare contractors, and thus handle millions of federal dollars;

* As the Latonia Davis case shows, BC/BS employees have access to highly personal information that can be used to cause considerable harm.

Authorities say that Davis accessed the company's internal database in June and obtained the Social Security numbers of at least seven people with the intent to manufacture credit cards. She was arrested on June 22 after obtaining one such card.

It would be interesting to know if Latonia Davis had a criminal record before joining BC/BS. My guess is that she probably did not and passed the company's background check handily. Obviously, clean background checks are not always a predictor of future behavior.

But what about my pal, Mike McGarity? How did a guy with at least eight criminal convictions in his past--all a matter of public record, which I found quite easily--slip through the cracks at a company that is charged by Congress with being uber careful about its hiring practices?

Did McGarity declare his criminal history on his application, and BC/BS ignored it? Did McGarity fail to declare his criminal history, and BC/BS didn't uncover it? Does the company have a policy for dealing with employees who fail to accurately state information on an application? Does the company even ask about criminal histories?

Koko Mackin, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield spokeswoman, said Davis was the focus of a joint investigation by the company and law enforcement. The company issued the following statement:

"Although this is an isolated incident, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama takes the security of our members' health information seriously. We will continue to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to protect the security and integrity of our members' health information."

If BC/BS is so serious about security, why has Mike McGarity (and his well-documented criminal record) been working at the company for 20-plus years?

We will soon be providing many more details about McGarity's sordid past. And it will raise this question: How does a company that appears to have been vigilant in the Latonia Davis case let a criminal go unnoticed right under its nose?


Robby Scott Hill said...

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama is a continuing criminal enterprise that doubled my insurance premiums shortly after I started my blog and began commenting on yours back in 2007. Before that, they dropped me from my parent's plan while I was in law school in 1999 & wouldn't let me have insurance again until I went to work for the state in 2003. They are sorry SOBs.

Medicare Alabama said...

Latonia should have been sent to prison for doing this..thanks

legalschnauzer said...

Has anyone ever spent time around the Regent Forest neighborhood in Hoover? I'm starting to think it must have toxins that cause brain damage.

James Greek said...

Roger dude:

You should be an investigative reporter on the news and investigate that neighborhood